Predicting when or if colon cancer will develop is not possible, but predicting due to high risk factors can save lives. Early detection through screening can prevent cancer and keep it at a treatable stage.

General Causes

 While many different factors can lead to colon cancer, the exact cause is unknown. Being aware of the factors and whether or not you are at a higher risk can help save your life.

Age

All though the majority of colon cancer cases are  found in people aged 45 and up, there is an increase in colorectal cancer cases in those under 45. The risk is higher as you age. Screening starts at age 50 and continues for the next 25 years.

Overweigh

 Years of obesity can also increase your chances of developing colon cancer.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

 If you have ever had ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, these diseases can increase your chances of developing colorectal cancer.

Type II Diabetes

 Not only can diabetes increase your risk for colon cancer it can also have an effect on your prognosis.

 Lifestyle

 The way you live can also increase your chances of developing colon cancer.

Diet

Overeating, carrying extra weight and the types of foods you eat can contribute not only to poor health but to colon and other types of cancers. Not only the food but also the way they are prepared.

Avoid red meat and any types of processed meats, like deli meat, hot dogs, and all types of red meat. Avoid eating burnt meat or other foods and try to avoid grilling, frying, and broiling meats.

Try to increase fresh fruits and vegetables, more plant-based foods, and avoid dairy, all processed foods, and sweets.

Smoking and Drinking

Cigarettes are one of the worst things you can do to damage your health. Combine it with excessive drinking, you increase your health risks and your cancer risks.

Exercise

Try to stay active, even walking in the evening or to work, taking the stairs or some type of stationary exercise equipment in the home can help with your overall health and keep cancer risks lowered.

Even for those with mobility concerns, you can find exercises you can do online or from books and magazines.

Genetics

The same way we can inherit a strong chin or a good head of hair, we can also inherit bad genes. If there has been colorectal cancer in your family, then your doctor will likely recommend you get screened earlier.

Inherited syndromes can also be a factor that increases your chances of developing colon cancer. The two most common are familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).

Your ethnic background can also be a factor. African Americans have the highest incidence of colorectal cancer in the United States. Ashkenazi Jews also have a higher risk of developing the disease.

If you have no other risks, yet are in one of those ethnic groups you should consider getting a screening earlier than the normal recommendation.

Prevention

Taking care of your health is important, in particular, as we age. Taking plenty of exercise doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon. It just means getting off the couch or out of your desk chair regularly.

Try walking to work or part of the way home, if possible. Take the stairs when possible and invest in a bike, either stationary or mobile.

Our diets are one of the biggest ways we can prevent disease and poor health. It is all tied together, our diets, the amount we eat, what we eat, plus the impact on our bodies and the environment.

Eating a diet high in fiber, low in fat and avoiding meat can increase your health, your life expectancy and give you much more energy and a more enjoyable lifestyle.

Try to avoid stress. It is not always easy and some stresses in our lives are unavoidable, but avoid the ones you can and find other ways of coping with stress other than turning to carbs, smoking, and alcohol.

Relaxing with yoga, a warm bath before bed, and turning off all your devices can make a big difference. Getting a good night’s sleep can help start your day and it plays a big part in our overall health.

Consider a walk after a big meal, to help move it through your body. Even a walk after a stressful day at work can drop your stress and blood pressure considerably.

Worrying about family, money, your job is going to happen, to try to avoid stressing about things you have no control over. Turn off the news and your social media before you go to bed.

Try reading, relaxing, stretching, and listening to soft music with low lighting. Don’t overeat, stop smoking, eat more fiber, and take care of yourself. Colon cancer can be detected early, but there is no reason you should encourage it along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colon cancer develops in stages. Depending on what stage the cancer is at will determine the type of treatment you will receive. Once tested and diagnosed, the doctor will know what stage it is at.

Stages of Colon Cancer

 While it is considered the 4 stages it begins at zero.

Stage 0

 This is the earliest stage of colon cancer. The discovery of polyps, or abnormal cells is found in the inside lining of the rectum or colon. These polyps have not yet spread to other parts of the body and may or may not be cancerous.

Stage 1

In this stage, the cells have attached themselves to the walls of the intestine. They have moved through the  mucosa (the inner lining) and into the submucosa. There may be a chance they have entered the muscle. But there is no evidence the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

Stage 2

 The next stage of colon cancer is more dire and can be divided into 3 other categories.

Stage 2A means it has moved to the outermost layer of the colon or rectum, but has not grown through it. It has not reached nearby organs or lymph nodes, and has not spread to other, more distant organs.

Stage 2B means that the cancer has grown through all the layers of the colon or rectum, but has not yet spread to the lymph nodes or other organs.

Stage 2C indicates that the cancer has now grown through all the layers of the intestine but has also grown into nearby organs or tissues. It also means that it has not spread to the lymph nodes or other distant organs.

Stage 3

 Stage 3 colon cancer is also divided into 3 sub categories.

The first stage of stage 3 has the cancer spread into at least 3 lymph nodes and possibly the muscles.

The second category of stage 3 will mean the cancer has grown into or through the outermost layer of the colon or rectum and may have also spread into nearby organs or other tissues. It has not yet spread to distant organs.

When colon cancer is determined at the third stage of stage three, the cancer has now spread into the next closest organs.

Stage 4

Stage 4 colon cancer is also called advanced  colon cancer. It means the cancer has now reached other organs like the lungs or liver.

There are several ways this cancer can metastasize. It may or may affect the lymph nodes, and it doesn’t always grow through the wall of the colon or rectum.

There are different categories for advanced colon cancer. It will depend on how many organs it has reached and whether it is in the lymph nodes or just the original tumor.

 

Treatment for Advanced Colon Cancer

 Treating a patient with advanced colon cancer will depend on several other factors. Age, medical condition, overall health, medications the patient is taking and the potential side effects and risks involved.

 Depending on how many organs are affected by the cancer, there may be surgery to remove tumors, organs and surrounding tissue. The lymph nodes may also be removed, damaged and healthy parts of the colon and rectum.

It may result in the patient also having to have a colonoscopy. This is a small opening done surgically so the colon can be connected to the abdominal surface.

This will provide a pathway for waste to exit the body. This waste is collected in a pouch worn by the patient. It may be temporary, it may be permanent. It will depend on the individual and their own situation.

Aftercare can include chemo or radiation therapy or medications. The recovery will depend on when the cancer was found and the patient’s health and age.

In many cases, the patients may move to palliative care. This will help the patient cope with the effects of colon cancer. This can be at home, in the hospital or a long-term care facility. It is meant to improve the quality of life.

It does not always mean end-of-life care, however advanced colon cancer survival rate is not promising. Once it has reached the other vital organs, it lowers the life expectancy considerably.

 

Get Screened

 If you have a history of cancer in your family, if you have a sedentary lifestyle, are overweight, smoke or have type 2 diabetes, you should consider getting screened before the recommended age.

Talk to your healthcare provider about the variety of tests available and take charge of your health. It is difficult to recover once your colon cancer has reached the advanced stage.

Testing and taking control of your own health is the best way to prevent all types of illnesses and diseases that are otherwise preventable. Cancer is not always preventable, but there is no need to invite it in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you or a loved one is living with colon cancer or in recovery from treatment, you know how difficult it can be. It can also make a drastic difference in the patient’s recovery.

Their involvement can vary, depending on many factors. Mostly, it will depend on the stage of colon cancer, the patient’s age and health and what they need. The caregiver will come in many forms, as well.

 

Support From Family

One of the best ways a caregiver can help their patient is giving them emotional support. Being diagnosed with cancer is a frightening notion and many of us have no idea what to do.

It’s important for all family members to provide emotional support, if available. Often, just someone to listen to them talk about what they are going through can ease a lot of fears.

It can be a lot of work, but family should be involved in helping the patient make decisions, accompany them to doctor appointments and to ask how they are getting on.

The day-to-day little things will go a lot smoother with emotional support. They don’t want to feel alone and it helps to have someone there to hear what the doctors have said, just to make sure it was all understood.

 

Professional Support

 For those patients who need a lot more care than just a ride to the doctor or an ear to chew, you will likely need professional care. Advance stage cancer will require a lot more than most of us are capable of, nor should we be.

Depending on your situation, you will likely require a caregiver to come into the home. They know all about what needs to be done and are highly trained to take care of your loved one.

They can administer medications, change dressings, check surgery sites, give them baths, help with physical therapy and so much more. It is too much of a burden to take on as a family member.

The truth is, many patients will be more comfortable with a professional. While you provide the emotional support they need, the professionals will take care of the rest.

Patients can feel like they are asking too much from you, and often, don’t want you to be the one caring for them. They are feeling vulnerable and dependant and that shouldn’ come down to you.

 

In Care

 If your patient requires more medical care than you can provide, you may need to consider a care facility. Long or short term facilities are designed especially for these situations.

This will depend on how advanced the cancer is, if you are looking at end of life care and if your insurance or budget will allow this type of care. They will receive all the care they need and it takes the burden off of you.

Doctors, nurses, therapists and also people who are also going through the same things can be a great comfort for the patient. They don’t feel like they are depending on you and cause you to miss out on anything.

Being in a care facility with like-minded people who have had the same experiences can be very liberating for people, in particular, for people who are having trouble coping with the cancer, the treatment and the prognoses.

 

Care For Life

 The caregiver, whether it is a family member or a community nurse, plays a vital part in the patient’s recovery and overall disposition. No one wants to be in this situation, but it doesn’t stop it from happening.

Support through all the stages of colon cancer are important. Even getting someone to the doctor to get screened can be difficult for some people. But, they won’t cope if you don’t.

Stay positive but be honest. It is a difficult situation for everyone involved, but the patient most. They will be scared and have a lot of questions. Encourage them to seek the best treatment that is recommended by their medical professional and stay with them through all of it.

 

Cope The Best You Can

It will be a big adjustment for everyone in their life, and a rapid one. As a caregiver in the family, it is fine for you to be angry, stressed, frustrated and scared.

But don’t blame the patient. Avoid the ‘I told you so’ routine, as that will not help anyone. People heal faster if they are not stressed and worried. Even if you have a professional caregiver, you can still play a huge part in their recovery.

Make them healthy meals, let them vent and express themselves. Do nice things that will cheer them up and just be there when they need it.  It is a difficult time for everyone. Just be there in whatever capacity you can to make them as happy and comfortable as possible.