Different screening tests are recommended to different group of people. The advantage of detecting colon cancer at the earliest stage gives patients a significant chance of being cured. Some screening tests aim to find polyps or noncancerous colon polyps, which are advised to healthy people who have no symptoms. There has been some evidence that screening tests can reduce the risk of death from colon cancer.
Approximately people at the age of 45 are recommended to start colon cancer screening tests. People with family history of having colon cancer or African-American are advised to do the screening sooner as they are at higher risk.
One or more of the following tests may be recommended if patients have symptoms of colon cancer:
After being diagnosed with colon cancer, further tests will be advised to detect the stage of the disease. The type of treatment options that will be used to treat depends on the stage of the cancer. Therefore, staging is important in determining the most accurate treatment method for the patients. The tests to determine the stage of the cancer can be done through imaging procedures such as CT scans of abdomen, pelvic and chest.
Roman numerals from 0 to IV are indications of colon cancer stage. The lowest stage is when the cancer is only at the lining of the inside of the colon. In stage IV or advanced stage, the cancer has spread or metastasized to other parts of the body.
Locations of the cancer, its stage and other health condition will determine the type of treatment. Generally, surgical removal of the cancer is the treatment for colon cancer. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy could also be used.
In cases where cancer is at an advanced stage or the patient has declined health condition, a procedure to release blockage in the colon will be advised to improve the symptoms. This operation is not designed to cure cancer, but to relieve symptoms like a blockage, bleeding or pain.
When cancer has spread only to the liver or lung while patient’s health condition is well, a surgery or other treatments that are localized can be done to eliminate the cancer. After or before this procedure, chemotherapy could be used in parallel for treatment. This treatment option results in the chance of being free from cancer in the long run.
Chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells. When treating colon cancer, chemotherapy is used after the surgical procedure when the cancer covered a large area and has invaded lymph nodes. Chemotherapy will then kill cancer cells that are left in the body and this diminishes the risk of cancer to reoccur.
Chemotherapy has the benefits of shrinking cancers that cover a broad area before the surgery as it becomes easier to operate the cancer.
Some symptoms of colon cancer cannot be eliminated by operation or when it has metastasized, this is when chemotherapy is used. Chemotherapy can also be given with the combination of radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy is the use of high-powered beams of energy sources,similar to X-rays and protons to destroy cancer cells. It has the ability to shrink big cancer so using it before a surgery, makes it easier to operate. If surgery is not a treatment option for the patient, radiation therapy will be given to relieve painful symptoms.
Targeted drug treatments particularly attack abnormalities that exist in the cancer cells. When the abnormalities are blocked, cancer cells die from the effect of targeted drug treatments.
Targeted drugs are often times given with the combination of chemotherapy and primarily given to patients who are at advanced stage of colon cancer.
Immunotherapy is a type of drug that relies on the function of immune system to fight cancer. The immune system in the body may not naturally fight against cancer because the cancer cells create proteins, which cannot be detected by the immune system. Immunotherapy interferes with this natural process. Advanced stage of colon cancer patients are commonly treated with immunotherapy. Sometimes cancer cells are tested prior to receive the medication to ensure the body will respond to the treatment.
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