Colon cancer - symptoms and diagnosis

For a long time, the cancer makes no or at best mild and uncharacteristic complaints.
That is why especially people over 45 should pay attention to the following signs that need clarification:

  • any change in bowel habits (frequent bowel movement at unfamiliar times, persistent diarrhea and / or constipation) within a short period of time, possibly
  • combined with bad flatulence,
  • Blood in the stool (even with known hemorrhoids)

Blood in the stool: absolutely to the doctor

The addition of blood in the stool must be clarified in any case, even if the person suffering from hemorrhoids - these are so common that both (cancer and hemorrhoids) can occur simultaneously. Any cause of blood in the stool must be thoroughly investigated, the exclusion of cancer is a compelling consequence!

Some bowel cancers produce larger amounts of mucus, which can then be seen in the stool. Other complaints may include fatigue, decreased performance, weight loss and abdominal pain. Really serious signs of illness such as massive indigestion, nausea or a yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice) only appear in the advanced stage of cancer with liver metastases.

Complications of colon cancer

Especially with very fast-growing tumors, there is a risk of intestinal obstruction (ileus), which must be repaired immediately. Metastases can prevent the outflow of bile and lead to liver failure.

Examination for colon cancer

In most cases, colon carcinoma is detected by palpation of the rectum and by colonoscopy. In order to get an impression of the histological type and the degree of degeneration (dysplasia), the doctor simultaneously performs a tissue extraction (biopsy). If a colonoscopy does not provide the desired information, there is the possibility of an X-ray examination with contrast agent.

With the help of ultrasound, X-ray examinations and computed tomography, the extent of the cancer infestation and the presence of metastases is recorded. Depending on the stage of the disease, some patients in the blood have a protein originating from the tumor, the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). Although this is not suitable for the new detection of colon cancer, as it not only occurs in this type of cancer, but its determination can be used in the aftercare (the concentration increases again, this is a sign that the cancer is [again] active ).

Important for the prognosis is how far the cancer entered the intestinal wall at the time of the diagnosis and at which point it grows. The closer he is to the intestinal exit, the worse the prognosis, since he can more easily disperse his daughter's tumors via lymphatic and blood vessels.

Healing chances in colon cancer

If the malignant tumor cells are restricted to the intestine, the chances of recovery are very good. Even if the intestinal wall is exceeded and lymph nodes are involved, more than half of the patients can still be healed. However, if several liver metastases are present, the probability of survival is (still) low; If there is only one metastasis, there is hope for recovery. If the cancer has been successfully removed, there is a 20 to 30 percent chance that it will recur.

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