What are the Main Treatment Options for Colorectal Cancer?
Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for colon or rectal cancer.
This entails removing the segment of the colon involved by the cancer as well as the lymph nodes draining via the mesentery. If the cancer is small and early, minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery can be done, with smaller incisions, less pain, and faster recovery.
Additional treatment in the form of chemotherapy or radiation may provide additional benefit and this may be best discussed with your specialists.
How is Colon Cancer Diagnosed?
Colon cancer is best detected early, when there are still no symptoms. Screening for individuals with no risk factors to develop colon or rectal cancer starts at 50 years old. For those individuals with inherited risks such as those with significant family history, screening should start earlier. This is achieved through screening tests such as colonoscopy, fecal occult blood test with flexible sigmoidoscopy, barium enema and CT virtual colonoscopy.
On the other hand, if you are experiencing the typical symptoms of colon cancer or polyps, a colonoscopy would be the most appropriate test for you. If a polyp is found, it can be completely removed and sent to the laboratory to check for early malignancy. Removal of a benign adenomatous polyp prevents its progression to cancer. However, if a tumor is found instead under colonoscopy, a biopsy can be done quickly and safely to determine if it is malignant.
What Happens if You have Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer first begins as a tumor in the lining of the colon. Early symptoms maybe bleeding, abnormal fecal discharge, or unexplained anemia. As the tumor grows, it may begin to obstruct the flow of feces causing abdominal colic and changes in bowel habits. If the obstruction is left to progress, eventually the flow of feces and gas will be completely blocked, resulting in abdominal enlargement, pain and vomiting. Perforation of the large intestine with intra-abdominal infection is another complication of advanced tumors.
Aside from its effect on the intestines, colon cancer also spreads through the lymph nodes and affects other organs away from the colon. The most sites of metastasis are the liver, lung, and peritoneum (inner lining of the abdomen).
Colon cancer is staged according to severity:
Stage I - cancer does not go beyond the wall of the colon.
Stage II - cancer goes beyond the wall of the colon.
Stage III - the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes around the colon.
Stage IV - the cancer has spread to other organs.
COLORECTAL SPECIALISTS, INC.
At the Forefront of Colorectal Care in the Philippines
Stage 4 Colon and Rectal Cancer
*Note: There is No More Stage 5
There are various stories about colon cancer being detected at a terminal stage. Christine, 44 years old, never had any symptoms – no pain, no weakness and fatigue, now weight loss, not even a streak of blood during bowel movement. But one day, she just bled profusely in the toilet. The verdict was Stage 4 colon cancer.
Fred, 45 years old, did not ignore his symptoms. He had abdominal pain and bouts of constipation and diarrhea for several months. He was diagnosed with amoebiasis. When bleeding started, he underwent flexible sigmoidoscopy and barium enema. Both exams were normal. No one suggested a colonoscopy. Fourteen months from the onset of his symptoms, his colon was completely obstructed by cancer. He had to undergo emergency surgery. At the time of surgery, his doctors noted his liver to full of tumor as well. Stage 4.
Margie has 2 siblings who were survivors of colon cancer. She was advised to undergo screening colonoscopy. She declined. She eventually noted blood from her stools. During work-up, she was diagnosed to have rectal cancer that has spread to her lungs. Stage 4.
Most colon and rectal cancers are caught in later stages. This is because symptoms usually take time to manifest. More often, symptoms are dismissed as hemorrhoids, stomach flu or other inflammatory bowel diseases. Also, there is a common disregard for the importance of colorectal cancer screening.
There are certain symptoms that may indicate the presence of colon and rectal cancer. These include: recent changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation; blood in the stool; persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps or gas pain; a feeling that bowel doesn’t empty completely; unexplained anemia, weakness or fatigue; and weight loss with no known reason.
Colon and rectal cancer, which is cancer of the large intestine or the lowest part of the digestive system, may be associated with a diet low in fiber and high in fat, calories, red meat, and processed foods. Other risk factors are a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, alcohol, diabetes, as well as a personal or family history of colon polyps or colorectal cancer. Age is also a risk factor. “About 90 percent of people diagnosed with colon cancer are older than 50,” says Dr. Manuel Francisco T. Roxas, a leading colorectal specialist, “although it can also occur in younger people, but much less frequently.” Thus, Dr. Roxas strongly recommends regular screening for those 50 years old and above.
In Stage 4 colon and rectal cancer, which is the final stage, the disease has spread to other parts of the body such as liver or lungs. Treatment for Stage 4 colon cancer entails a careful evaluation from experts to ensure correct staging. Then, a combination of treatment modalities can be applied such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery (a surgeon removes the section of the colon affected by the tumor and joins the remaining healthy sections together).
A multidisciplinary teamwork approach is applied in the management of colorectal cancer. The team is composed of specialists from the field of Colorectal Surgery, Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Pathology, Psychiatry and Enterostomal Nursing. The objective is to ensure that the best available care is provided the patient.
Colon and rectal cancer is best detected early, when it is most curable, before the development of symptoms. This is achieved through screening tests, particularly colonoscopy, which views the entire colon. At the same time, the surgeon can already remove any visible polyps (small, benign tissue which may eventually develop into colon or rectal cancer).
Various options for colorectal cancer screening are available. Routine screening is highly recommended, as follows: 1) fecal occult blood test yearly with flexible sigmoidoscopy every three years, or 2) colonoscopy every five to ten years, or 3) virtual CT colonography every three to five years.
Colorectal Specialists provides comprehensive, advanced, and efficient care to wide range of colorectal conditions. Its expertise is in the surgical management of colorectal cancer, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, and other benign disorders like hemorrhoids, fissures, fistulae, polyps, constipation, fecal incontinence, sexually transmitted anorectal diseases, and other colorectal problems. It always strives to provide comfort, privacy and total quality service to its clienteles.
This specialist clinic is located at the 3rd Floor, Medicard Lifestyle Center, #51 Paseo de Roxas Cor. Sen. Gil Puyat (Buendia) Ave., Makati City, with Tel. No. 555-0832, Cell phone No. 09266305759. The clinic is open from Mondays to Fridays - 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM, and on Saturdays - 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Also, please visit www.colonandrectalspecialists.com or www.crsi.com.ph.
Who are at Risk of Colorectal Cancer?
* Age. About 90% of people diagnosed with colon cancer are older than 50. Colon cancer can occur in younger people, but it occurs much less frequently.
* Family history of colorectal cancer, or polyps in the colon - If you have a positive family history of colorectal cancer, you are more likely to develop this disease.
* Inflammatory bowel disease - A person who has a condition that causes inflammation of the colon such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease for many years is at an increased risk. Fortunately, these are not common in the Philippines.
* Personal history of cancer - A person who already had colorectal cancer may develop colorectal cancer a second time. Also, a woman with a history of cancer of the ovary, uterus, or breasts are at a somewhat higher risk of developing the disease.
* Diet - Colon cancer and rectal cancer maybe associated with diet low in fiber and high in fats, calories, red meat and processed foods.
* Sedentary lifestyle
How Do You Know if You Have Colon Cancer?
Many cases of colon cancer have no symptoms.
The followings symptoms, however, may indicate colon cancer:
* Recent changes in bowel habits such as diarrhea or constipation
* Blood in the stool
* Persistent abdominal discomfort such as gas, cramps or pain
* Abdominal pain with bowel movement
* A feeling that your bowel does not empty completely
* Unexplained Anemia
* Weakness or fatigue
* Weight loss with no known reason
* Finding your stools narrower than usual
* Nausea or vomiting
With proper screening, colon cancer can be detected BEFORE the development of symptoms, when it is most curable.
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of the digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last 15 centimeters of the colon. Together, they’re often referred to as colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third most common malignancy worldwide, as well as in the Philippines.
Two-thirds of colorectal cancer are located somewhere in the colon. This type of cancer is a leading cause of cancer death, although it is curable when detected and treated early.
Most cases of colon cancer begin as small noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time, some of these polyps become colon cancers. Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms.
Regular screening tests can help prevent colon cancer by identifying polyps before they become cancerous.
Colorectal diseases encompass a wide variety of conditions affecting the colon and rectum. The severity of each condition can vary from mildly irritating such as constipation or occasional diarrhea to life threatening such as colorectal cancer. Studies show that early screening and treatment of colon and rectal diseases can significantly improve treatment outcomes and survival rates of patients. However, many patients delay or don't seek treatment because of lack of knowledge about their disease and its symptoms or just too embarrassed to seek help.
Because the symptoms of different colon and rectal disease can closely resemble those of other diseases, there is the potential for misdiagnosis and mistreatment. Colon and rectal specialists emphasize the importance of early screening and treatment of colorectal diseases for the best outcomes. Therefore, it is important to be able to identify the signs and symptoms of the various diseases of the colon and rectum.
Colorectal Laparoscopic Surgery
Laparoscopic surgery, also called minimally invasive surgery or keyhole surgery, is a modern surgical technique in which operations in the abdomen are performed through small incisions.
Robotic-Assisted Colorectal Surgery
Robotic-assisted colorectal surgery revolutionizes the field of minimally-invasive surgery. The robotic machine combines 3D high definition vision with multiple instruments that have a complete range of subtle movement and rotations in the body. This allows the surgeon enhanced dexterity, precision and control of the instruments.
Robotic-assisted colorectal surgery provides many benefits to patients. There are small incisions hence, reduced scarring. There is less operative pain and lower risk of infection. There is faster recovery and return to normal function. Overall, there is superior treatment outcome.