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The Colon Cancer: Main Aspects


Colon cancer is characterized by cancerous growth of tumor in the colon. The growths are benign but can progress into cancer as time progresses. Colonoscopy is normally used to diagnose colon cancer found in specific regions. Surgery can be used as a curative measure for invasive cancers. When invasive cancers are not treated they tend to move to the regional lymph nodes. Such cancers are called stage three cancers that can only be cured by administration of drugs or by subjecting the patient to surgical procedures. Cancers that spread to distant parts of the body- stage four cancers are normally difficult to cure. Chemotherapeutic approaches can be employed for extension of the victim’s survival. Rarely have administration of drugs and surgery been used as curative approaches for stage four colon cancers. As a curative measure, radiation is normally used for rectal cancer (Stokes 78). At the gene level colon cancer is caused by a mutation in the Wnt signaling pathway. Wnt binds to cell surface receptor thereby initiating a series of molecular events like movement of beta catenin into nucleus resulting into activation of a gene in the DNA. In colon cancer, APC gene is normally damaged. A failure in the functionality of APC brakes would normally result in a stuck Wnt pathway (Ginsberg 45). Symptoms of colon cancer largely depend on tumor location in the human bowel and its spread to other parts of the body. Cancer which occurs near the anus is normally related with local symptoms (Stokes 78). Local symptoms are associated with cancer located near the anus. These include constipation, diarrhea, tenesmus and reduction in stool diameter. Lower gastrointestinal bleeding and presence of blood in the feaces and presence of mucus in feaces is a pointer that a person may be suffering from colon cancer. Upper gastrointestinal bleeding characterized by black stool is also associated with the presence of colon cancer. Large tumors do cause obstruction of the bowel hence constipation, abdominal pain, vomiting and exhibition of distended stomach by the victims. Local symptoms may also be characterized by vaginal discharge. Chronic bleeding in victims can eventually lead to anemic conditions leading to fatigue and pale appearance of the skin. Emaciation and loss of appetite may also be significant. Infection of colon cancer in the liver is usually characterized by deposits (Ginsberg 60). Colon cancer may spread to the liver causing deposits in the liver. When the bile duct gets blocked by these deposits, this could result in the bile duct being blocked. As one’s age advances then the possibility of them developing colon cancer also increases. People of ages 60 and above are more likely to develop complications related to colon cancer than those aged 50 and below who can only develop such conditions if there is history of colon cancer in their family. Presence of polyps of cancer exposes one to the possibility of developing colon cancer. People who were previously diagnosed with colon cancer and treated are more likely to experience the resurgence of the complication. Woman who previously suffered from breast cancer and cancer of the ovary are more likely to develop colon cancer. Colon cancer is hereditary and therefore if one comes from a family with colon cancer history they are more likely to develop similar conditions even before they become 60 and above. Smokers have high chances of developing colon cancer than non smokers. People whom their diets are absolutely composed of red meat are exposed to risk of colon cancer. The physically inactive have higher chances of contracting colon cancer. Exposures to viruses like HPV virus increase the risk of developing colon cancer. Exposure to hormone estrogen is associated with development of breast cancer likewise to heavy drinking of alcohol. Colon cancer diagnosis involves use of many techniques (Stokes 38).These include: Digital Rectal exam (DRE) method used to detect tumors that are large. Focal occult blood (FOBT) is a test that is usually carried out to check for any traces of occult blood in the stool (Ginsberg 21). It involves use of two methods: chemical test and immunochemical tests. Endoscopy is divided into sigmoidoscopy-use sigmoidoscope which check for polyps and colonoscopy which uses colonoscopy to look for polyps.

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Overview of colon cancer with historical perspectives

Cancer of the colon has been there for over a thousand years. In the 20th century, scientific innovations made it possible to identify and treat colon cancer. The studies also made it possible to check development of colon cancer and assessment of at risk groups. Cancer of the colon was a thorn on the flesh of many until the 20th century when serious research in that field begun. American pathologist Warthin Scott in 1913 postulated relatedness in different types of colon cancer. Scott’s seamstress said that she would probably succumb to colon cancer because members of her family had succumbed to the disease, this prompted Scott to conduct a research on the issue to ascertain its authenticity. Research findings of this study pointed at heredity as one of the potential causes of cancer of the colon. Henry lynch later in 1966 expanded on Scotts findings. He came up with Lynch syndrome type I and II in an effort to describe cancer that colonizes the digestive tract. In 1980s scientific research revealed that cancer of the colon affected mostly individuals who had attained 50 years and above and that one out 17 people in the US were diagnosed with the complication. After 1985, the number of people who were diagnosed with cancer of the colon steadily decreased annually. Decline in colon cancer prevalence and death was attributed to techniques that were used in screening and treatment of cancer. It was also partly due to adoption of healthy lifestyles and diets. Colonoscopies and fecal occult blood tests were developed in the late 1980s hence early detection of colon cancer. Early detection of cancer of the colon means the patient’s chances of survival in 6 years becomes 90 per cent possible. Innovations into drug administration and surgical procedures have improved cancer of the colon initiatives. Researchers have been stunned by their findings on colon cancer studies. The findings had heavy racial connotations. A study that was conducted by the CDC within a span of 30 years found out that African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, and Latinos were exposed to cancer of the colon than other races. Mortalities were high among male African Americans, Native Americans and Latino women. There has not been an explanation why colon cancer is common among certain ethnic groups and races.

Prevalence of colon cancer

Prevalence of colon cancer implies the estimate of the population of people managing colon cancer at a given time. American cancer society attest that there were 93,800 cases of colon cancer diagnosed in America in the year 2000, leading to 47,700 deaths. A total of 12000 women in the UK were diagnosed with cancer in 2000. Additional 14,800 men were diagnosed with colon cancer in the UK. Studies project that 1 in 26 women in Australia will go down with colon cancer related complications in their life time. Projections have also been made to the effect that 1 in 17 men will develop colon cancer in their lifetime in Australia.

Prevention of colon cancer

It is always advisable that somebody sees the doctor if they see symptoms in their system that may be a manifestation of colon cancer because early stages of cancer are normally asymptomatic. For people who are aged above 50 years, they should make it a routine to undergo frequent colon cancer screening. Taking a balanced diet is a sure way of staying free from cancer of colon. Food with too much fat and cholesterol compound the risks of developing colon cancer. It is also advisable that one maintains a healthy weight as obese men are more prone to colon cancer development than women. According to Strokes, exercise can be used to reduce risks of developing breast cancer (Stokes 85). It is therefore imperative that one remains physically active to avert the risk of developing breast cancer. Basically, people should always know their family medical history. Tell the physician about your medical history as people who have suffered from cancer previously are likely to have resurgence. Smoking should be avoided at all cost like wise to exposure to radiation.

Treatment of colon cancer

Local anastomosis or excision is a treatment measure for carcinoma in situ(Ginsberg 19).Stage I colon cancer is done by resection of anastomosis. Stage II and III colon cancer is treated by radiation therapy, chemotherapy, monoclonal antibody therapy and chemotherapy (Stokes 65). Recurrent colon cancer is treated using chemotherapeutic means, radiation therapy, palliative therapy, monoclonal antibody therapy and anastomosis.

Further scientific research into colon cancer

Experts warn that little has been done to ascertain the relationship that there is between insulin therapy and cancer. Benefits that the use of insulin in diabetes treatment has surpass the risks the insulin therapy has but reviews suggest that insulin differ from each other in terms of influence to cancer risk. The review involved laboratory and population studies that spanned more than 30 years. Reviewers brought to life idea that had initially been raised that modification of molecular structure of insulin led to increased rate of cell division. They showed that diabetics may risk developing cancer and treatment choices adopted by them ay alter their cancer. They suggest that certain analogues of insulin may encourage tumor growth of tumor. Meta Analysis indicated that people with diabetes had a 30% risk of developing colorectal cancer. On the other hand women with diabetes had a 20 per cent risk of getting breast cancer. (Ginsberg 71). The researchers noted that further study into this issue need to be done to ascertain the link between insulin and growth of tumors.


The essay looked into historical aspects of colon cancer, its prevalence, prevention and treatment of colon cancer, and further scientific research in colon cancer.

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Works Cited

Ginsberg, Leon, Nackerud, Larry & Larrison, Christopher R. Human biology for social Workers. Atlanta: Allyn and Bacon, 2003. Print.

Stokes, Mark. Colon cancer: current and emerging trends in detection and treatment. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 2006. Print.

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