Like most things in cancer, diagnosing colon cancer as early as possible is so essential to make it easier to treat so thus patient will have a better prognosis and outlook. The bad news, it doesn’t always cause early signs and symptoms, making it often become late to diagnose!
In the end of your colon (large intestine), you have rectum. Cancer that originally grows in the rectum is called rectal cancer. Cancers of colon and rectum are often referred to as bowel /colorectal cancer. So, bowel itself includes large intestine and rectum.
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And there are several types of bowel cancer – the type is based on the kind of cell it starts from. These include:
This is the most common type of colon cancer. Even about almost 95 percent of all bowel cancers are adenocarcinomas. That’s why, when doctors /people talk about cancer of bowel, adenocarcinomas is usually the kind they are referring to.
Mostly, cancerous cells of bowel often start in the gland cells of bowel’s lining. What are the gland cells?
Normally the gland cells have important function to produce a slimy substance, mucus. This substance is essential to help make the stool move easier through the large intestine and rectum.
Squamous cell cancers
The gland cells and the skin-like cells called squamous cells are essential for the bowel. Together, they make up bowel lining.
In squamous cell cancers, the first cell that is altered to become cancerous cell is squamous cell. This type is not as common as adenocarcinomas. It is treated in the different way, in the same way in treating anal cancers.
Sarcomas are the cancerous growths that come from the supporting cells of your body, including muscle and bone. And leiomyosarcomas are the most common sarcomas found in the bowel.
In other words, leiomyosarcomas are cancerous growths started in the smooth muscle of the bowel. They are different to adenocarcinomas and therefore require different treatment approaches, too.
These are slowly growing cancers that grow in hormone producing tissue, typically in the gastrointestinal system. They are not common, rare cancer. And since these behave differently to adenocarcinomas, they are treated differently!
The body has the lymph system (familiar called lymphatic system) to move lymph from the body’s tissues to the blood (bloodstream). This system consist of many thin tubes and lymph nodes that line throughout the body.
Lymphatic system can be affected by cancer, too. Cancers of lymphatic system is called lymphomas. Fortunately, lymphomas found in the bowel are rare. There is only about 1 percent of bowel cancers is lymphomas.
As mentioned before, many times the disease doesn’t cause early signs. Even when the early warning signs do occur, these can be vary vogue, too!
However, there are some warning signs that you should not ignore. These may include:
- Unintended weight loss that comes without known reason.
- Lack of energy, typically followed with fatigue or weakness.
- A discomfort feeling of incompletely emptying bowel.
- Abdominal discomforts. These may include bloating, cramps, or even pain.
- Bleeding! Typically, this can be found on or in the stool.
- Changes in the habit for bowel movements, such as constipation, diarrhea, or an alteration in the consistency of the stool.
Among these signs – changes in bowel movements, blood on /in the stool, and abdominal pain are usually the main symptoms.
But having these doesn’t mean you definitely have bowel cancer. Even the main symptoms of the disease are also very common and may point to numerous different conditions.
Furthermore, these will likely vary. Typically the symptoms that appear are dependent on the stage of the cancer, the cancer’s size, and the position (where it occurs in the colon).
Changes in bowel movements
It’s undeniable that bowel movements are so essential to keep some mechanisms in the body work properly. These are required as a part of the body’s natural way of eliminating /excreting waste from the body.
In general, the definition of the normal bowel movement is what’s comfortable for you. But if there is something goes awry, you usually notice changes in the frequency, size, shape, and color.
It’s not easy to define the normal frequency of bowel movements since this can vary from person to person. However, there is average count!
For most people, this can go for about once or twice a day. But some can go less or more! Generally, again you should not worry to your bowel movement frequency as long as you feel comfortable!
The abnormal shape and size of the stool, such as pencil-thin, may point to the existence of colon cancer. However some experts doubt about this sign. In fact, many people with this symptom don’t have bowel cancer.
As long as what’s coming out is normal, there should be nothing to worry about the shape and size of the stool! But if you do concern about this sign, it’s not bad idea to see a doctor to find a clearly diagnosis.
How about the color? Normally, the stool comes with brown in color.
However the color may vary since the color can be attributed by some different factors such as foods that you eat and how long foods are digested and processed to become stool in the digestive system. For instance, if they take a shorter time in the digestive system, you are more likely to have greener stool.
The most important thing, blood found in the stool should not be ignored, especially if it is persistent – we will discuss this issue in the next paragraph.