What is colon cancer and what are the signs of colon cancer in women?
Colon cancer commonly affects adults over 50 years old. This type of cancer starts and grows in the inner lining of the large intestine. It begins as a small, non-cancerous clump of cells called adenomatous polyps. These clumps or clusters may later on develop into malignant cells. This disease largely affects women over men, especially those over 50 years old.
Signs and Symptoms of colon cancer in women
Signs of colon cancer in women mostly manifest as abnormalities in bowel movement. Adults, especially women, must pay close attention to changes in their bowel habits, such as:
– change in stool consistency
– frequent diarrhea and or constipation
– narrow stools
– blood in stools or rectal bleeding
– feeling that the bowel is not emptied completely or another urge to defecate even after having gone to the bathroom.
Other signs and symptoms include sudden loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, bouts of nausea and vomiting, bloating, easy fatigability, weakness, abdominal pain and cramps.
Causes of colon cancer in women
Colon cancer occurs when cells in the large intestine are altered. These cells change in form and multiply faster than normal cells, forming tumors. These can then later on become malignant. There is no one specific cause for colon cancer. However, several factors may increase a person’s risk for colon cancer. These include:
– older age (>50 years old)
– diet low in fiber
– excessive alcohol intake
– previous radiation therapy
– medical history of inflammatory diseases of the digestive system, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and bowel disease
– family history of colon cancer or other types of cancers
Inherited gene mutations may also increase a person’s risk for cancer. Inherited colon cancer syndromes include:
– Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). This is a rare disease that is characterized by the growth of thousands of polyps in the colon’s and rectum’s inner lining.
– Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). Also known as Lynch syndrome, this disease, predisposes a person to develop colon cancer or other cancers before 50 years old.
Diagnosis of colon cancer in women
Apart from the usual blood tests, imaging tests will be done to confirm the diagnosis of colon cancer. Colonoscopy with biopsy, Barium enema, CT scan, ultrasound and MRI imaging tests are done to check for masses, tumors, and obstruction.
Treatment of colon cancer in women
Treatment for the disease depends on the location and the extent of damage the cancer has caused. Surgery may be done to relieve blockage or remove a malignant polyp. The surgeon may also remove a part of the colon if the cancer cells have already spread to the surrounding tissues. This is called a partial colorectomy.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are common treatment measures for cancer. These aim to kill the cancer cells and relieve symptoms caused by the disease. Targeted drug therapy is an option for people with advanced cancer. These treatment measures involve the use of strong and harmful substances that may also damage healthy cells.
Cancer is a disease that may affect even the healthiest of people. Although living a healthy lifestyle can significantly decrease the risk for cancer, it is not a guarantee, especially for people with familial tendencies. Cancer screening is available and should be done, starting at age 50. Early detection of the signs of colon cancer in women greatly increases cure rates.