The causes of colon cancer are unknown. However, there is evidence that some dietary habits (i.e. red meat consumption) play a role in the incidence of colon cancer.
- Family history of colon cancer
- Individual and hereditary history of intestinal polyps
- Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease)
- Blood in the stool or black stool
- Change in bowel movements or alternation of diarrhea or constipation
- Weight loss
- Sometimes cancer can cause partial or complete blockage of the bowel with symptoms of vomiting, constipation, severe abdominal pain.
- There are cases where colon cancer is a random finding on colonoscopy.
In some cases, bowel cancer may cause a total bowel obstruction. In such cases, patients might complain about vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain and there are cases where bowel cancer is an incidental finding in colonoscopy.
Medical history, clinical examination and paraclinical examinations such as blood and stool examinations, colonoscopy, ultrasound, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, PET – scan and biopsy will confirm the diagnosis and the extent of the disease.
The main treatment for colon cancer is surgery. Radiation therapy can be given to the early disease after surgery, to prevent or treat relapses or to relieve pain (eg symptoms such as pain). Chemotherapy is also important in the adjuvant and metastatic setting. In addition, there are many targeted agents for metastatic disease. Sometimes metastases are treated with operation or other local ablative techniques.
Colon cancer is almost completely curable when diagnosed in early stages. Prevention of colon cancer involves periodic colonoscopy after 50.