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The Journey of Colon Cancer

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Any cancer diagnosis can be physically and mentally straining. Learning you have colon cancer can be a very stressful time, and may inflict many emotions and concerns about your health. Once you have recognized your feelings and interests, you are already on the road to coping with cancer.

What is a Colon?

The colon is the first four to five feet of your large intestine part of the digestive system in your body. Our digestive tract allows us to eat and then use that food as fuel for our bodies. The food reaches our colon after it passes through our small intestine. Our colon will remove nutrients and water from that food and turn the rest into waste. The waste then moves into our rectum to be released.  

Colon Cancer Broken Down

Colon cancer isn’t something that strikes overnight. In fact, colon cancer takes years to develop and may even take as long as ten years form. Cancer begins in our cells. Usually, cells will grow and divide as we need them. As our cells get old, they die and make space for new cells to form. In patients with colon cancer, this process can get mixed up. New cells will grow when our body doesn’t need them, and our old cells won’t die to make space for these new cells. The cancer cells will invade our colon walls or spread into other organs or lymph nodes. 

What are the symptoms of colon cancer?

If you are experiencing symptoms you’ve never had before, it doesn’t hurt to get them checked out. Some of the colon cancer symptoms include:

  • Changes in bowel movements, constipation or diarrhea 
  • Dark patches of blood in or on stool
  • The feeling of not being able to empty your bowels and the urgent feeling of needing to go again
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss or unexplained fatigue
  • Bleeding or cramping in the rectum
  • Bloating
  • Nausea or vomiting

You Have Been Diagnosed, Now What?

Colon Cancer has a very high survival rate, so don’t stress too much. If colon cancer is detected in the first five years, the survival rate can be 70 percent to 97 percent. In the early stages, the majority of patients were cured. 

If you are turning 50, and your primary care doctor has not recommended a colonoscopy, definitely make sure you ask for one. Also, make sure you ask for a second opinion; sometimes, a test could go wrong. You should also ask your doctor if your cancer is hereditary. This could be vital information for the rest of your family. 

Healthy Habits 

It is essential to keep a healthy lifestyle with and without colon cancer. The right diet and regular exercise can reduce the risk of cancer reappearing. Cardiovascular exercise is recommended for 20 to 30 minutes almost every day of the week. It is also recommended to make sure you eat your fruits and vegetables, and to not consume too much red meat.

Your Cancer Journey Guide

Cancer can be something new you are learning to live with. It doesn’t have to be stressful at all. We have some tips that will guide you through your cancer journey.

Don’t Overthink

Overthinking is easy if you have been diagnosed with a life-changing disease. The first thing you should do is learn how to deal with your cancer emotionally. Don’t stress yourself out about what could happen or the what-ifs. Try some relaxation activities or talking about how you feel with family members or friends. Also, don’t try and predict what happens next; take it one day at a time. 

Research

Research your cancer and educate yourself on how to handle it. You can never do too much reading. Ask questions; if this is new to you, don’t hesitate to ask if you don’t know the answer. While reading, if you come across remedies, some people use or symptoms that are unlike yours; remember that every person is different. In doing your research, always make sure to look up possible surgeries or medications to ask your doctor about.

Feel Out Your Needs

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help with simple tasks may be embarrassing at first, but it may help you in the long run. If you wake up in the morning and don’t feel well enough to go to work, don’t. Try not to push yourself and take things slow. 

Find a Doctor you are Comfortable with

Oncologists may be one of the most skilled and caring professionals. Find the right doctor for you may take some time, but it is worth the time to find someone you are comfortable with. The right doctor can possibly make your cancer journey smoother. 

Possible Colon Cancer Treatments

Surgery

The main treatment option of colon cancer is surgery; however, what kind of treatment you receive will depend on where the cancer is located and what stage. There are two main surgical options

Open Surgery

Open surgery is a large incision on your abdomen to remove the tumor along with some healthy tissue located in the colon or rectum. If there are lymph nodes near the cancer area, the surgeon will remove them. The surgeon will then check the rest of your colon to see if the cancer has spread.

Laparoscopic

A laparoscopy is done with a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a thin, lighted tube that is attached to a video monitor. The surgeon may make three to four tiny incisions in the abdomen. The laparoscope is used to see inside the patient’s body while the surgeon uses instruments to remove the cancer. Just like open surgery, the surgeon will check the rest of your colon to see if the cancer has spread. 

Healing time is different for all patients. In the first week, you may feel discomfort, but medication may aid with the pain. 

Your Support

The support you receive from your family and friends is vital. They can help keep you positive and may help you relieve stress. There are also options such as online cancer support forums or hiring a caregiver. You shouldn’t do it alone. 

The Doctors at NVSCC

The colon and rectal surgeons at Nevada Surgery and Cancer Center are experts in all treatments of diseases in the colon, rectum, and anus. Dr. Wishnev and Dr. Zhang have completed residencies in colon and rectal surgery and are also board-certified. Are you experiencing colon or rectal problems? Schedule an appointment with the passionate and highly skilled surgeons at Nevada Surgery and Cancer Center today!