The colon or large intestine is the last part of the intestinal tract. It plays a crucial role in the digestive process by absorbing mostly water from the chyme passing through preparing it to form into solid waste. Colon cancer and IBD are a worry among doctors and patients because of the stress on the colon during disease.
What is colon cancer?
Usually, colon cancer is characterized by small tumors (out of control cell growth) along the intestine. You may have heard of it as colon polyps. This is the name given to the growths before they have developed into cancer. Doctors advise healthy lifestyle and regular screenings because these don’t always cause painful symptoms.
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. Simply grouped together for simplicity because of shared characteristics, the only difference depends on the starting point. Therefore, colon cancer refers to cancer remaining within the colon only instead of spreading to the rectum.
Signs of colon cancer
– change in bowel habits
– blood in stool
– fatigue and weakness
– rectal pain and bleeding
The signs of bowel cancer can be intimidating because they are very similar to the signs of IBD and other gut problems. However, the most important takeaway is a change in the severity. To not confuse colon and colorectal cancers with IBD, it is important to study the symptoms of bowel cancers but first the causes and risk factors to take preventative measures.
Prevent risk of colon-rectal cancers
These are the start of the colon cancer process. However, they don’t necessarily have to turn cancerous. Depending on the type of polyp and the person the risk of it turning harmful increases.
The American Cancer Society describes the two types of polyps as:
- “Adenomatous polyps (adenomas): These polyps sometimes change into cancer. Because of this, adenomas are called a pre-cancerous condition.
- Hyperplastic polyps and inflammatory polyps: These polyps are more common, but in general they are not pre-cancerous.”
Causes of bowel cancer
Researchers and doctors haven’t found one direct cause for colon problems, but there are several causes that contribute to the development of cancerous polyps.
– chronic stress
– insufficient nutrition from diet
– excessive sitting
– history of cancer in family
Colorectal cancer causes continued
Studies show that alcohol damages the lining of the intestine putting the person risk of intestinal cancer. It is recommended to have alcohol in moderate amounts and avoid it when there is existing inflammation. In addition, it depends on the amount and type of alcohol. Beer is one of the easiest ways to introduce toxins and heavy pesticides because most are brewed with genetically modified grains.
A similar problem with cigarettes is that they contain dozens of chemicals, flavorings, and preservatives. Toxins can travel via cigarette smoke and be carried to the intestine, usually however the toxins accumulate along the upper digestive tract.
Obesity increases the risk of colon and other cancers because the body is usually in a chronic inflammatory state.
Family history plays a role in the development of colon problems because of genetic mutations and shared exposure to similar cancer causing agents.
Siting is the new smoking when it comes to cancer risk.
Excess sitting times contribute to the risk of colon cancer. Also, its bad for health in general because of the stress it places on the back and digestive organs. This makes sense as most poor sitting postures stress the colon and rectum promoting inflammation and other issues.
Modernized diet linked to colon cancer
One of the easiest ways to prevent cancer, eating a healthy diet. A Standard American Diet or Western diet is rich in conventional meats, fats, and sugars. Most of the time, people consume these items in pre-packaged foods so they are artificial and overly processed. The problem with these cancer causing foods is that they irritate the gut and create an inflammatory environment that promotes disease and bacterial growth.
A study on colon cancer found that:
The modern diet lacks fibre and comprises meats, refined carbohydrates and cooked vegetables, prolonging transit time and carcinogen exposure through the long human colon.
Since, there isn’t one singled out cause that will guarantee you colon cancer, there is more wiggle room to do different things that prevent it. For instance, decreasing smoking and drinking, managing your IBD, maintaining a healthy weight with a balanced diet, and keeping active.
Colon anatomy overview
The colon has four main parts:
1. Ascending colon
2. Transverse colon
3. Descending colon
4. Sigmoid colon
Identifying colon cancer:
Identifying the early stages of colon cancer is important so that it can be treated before it spreads out of the bowel and into the lymph or other parts of the body. Your doctor will pay close attention to colon cancer symptoms and use a combination of these methods.
- barium enema
- physical exam
- fecal occult blood test
- CT scan
- stool DNA
Colorectal cancer screening
Colonoscopies play two roles in the diagnosis of bowel cancers. First, they are used as screening methods to scan the intestine and identify any growing signs of colon cancer. More recently, because there is not an exact known cause for cancer there isn’t really any prevention methods other than to get regularly screened. GI’s and general care doctors use colonoscopies for IBD as a method of keeping an eye on disease progress and watching for any abnormal growths that may be signs of colon cancer.
A barium enema requires the patient to avoid food and drink for several hours. Once the person performing the procedure has injected the barium into the colon, it will show up white and tumors and colon polyps as dark figures/shadows.
Treating colon cancer
- anti cancer diet
- chemotherapy and/or radiation
Usually, surgery for colon cancer means removing one or more parts of the intestine. The procedures: colectomies (with or without ileostomy), bowel resection, etc. are the same used for treating Crohn’s and Colitis. See more about intestinal surgeries here. In addition, more specialized surgeries such as laparoscopic surgery which uses various small incisions in the abdomen are also an options for removing large polyps.
Chemotherapy and radiation
Very often, chemotherapy and radiation are used as part of a combination of cancer treatments. These are more aggressive than other treatments and are also not guaranteed to cure the cancer.
Natural colon cancer treatment
Many patients look to alternative treatments to prevent and reverse colon cancer. Working with a team of doctors that might include gastroenterologists, herbalists, naturopaths, and/or homeopaths. Also, special anti cancer diets, natural supplements, enemas, and juices may help activate the body’s natural healing process. As well as, chelation, essential oil therapy, Ayurvedic medicine, and other forms of detoxification.
Ways to prevent colorectal cancer:
Colorectal cancer and other intestinal conditions come without warning. Nevertheless, you can do your part to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle that decreases your risk of developing colon cancer. This is anything but a sacrifice since the protocols to prevent colon cancer are simply boosting your immune system, quality of life, diet, and lifestyle. We recommend you avoid the same cancer causing foods, that are responsible for chronic inflammation and flares. In addition, add in high quality natural supplements such as fish oil, fermented foods, and probiotics. Overall, the goal is to keep your colon healthy and nourished.