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Colon Cancer Treatment and Prevention

Colon Cancer:

Cancer which occurs in the colon (large intestine) or rectum, is known as colorectal cancer.  This common form of cancer can range from mild to very severe, through stages zero to four.  Although scientists are still researching the causes of colon cancer, there are steps you can take to help decrease your risk of developing this cancer, including avoiding consuming large amounts of processed meat and alcohol, reducing smoking, and avoiding being overweight or obese.  This article will investigate the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of colorectal cancer, and how Chinese Medicine can help.

Colon Cancer Treatment

Diagnosis of Colon Cancer:

Because colorectal cancer often doesn’t show obvious symptoms in the earliest stages, it’s usually diagnosed through routine screening. This can involve faecal tests, blood tests, x-rays or even colonoscopies.  As with most diseases, the earlier the diagnosis the better, since you’ll be able to start treatment sooner.

At a colon cancer screening appointment, your doctor will see how likely it is that you have colon cancer by asking about your medical and family history, pressing on your abdomen to check for lumps, and may perform a rectal exam also.  The American College of Gastroenterology suggests getting colon cancer screening from 40 years of age.

Faecal tests are a common way of diagnosing colorectal cancer.  The guaiac-based faecal occult blood test (gFOBT) uses a special card which changes colour if there is blood present in the stool sample.  However, some people prefer the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) which detects the haemoglobin in blood and is more likely to diagnose colon cancer compared to cancer from further up the digestive tract.  Some faecal tests are also able to be done at home.  Blood tests can also help find out if you have colon cancer, especially by ruling out other possible causes of symptoms.

A minimally invasive test called a sigmoidoscopy allows a doctor to examine the last section of your colon, using a flexible tube with a light.  In contrast, a colonoscopy allows a doctor to see most of the colon and rectum, and to remove abnormal tissues for testing.  Colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies are often the most effective ways of finding benign growths that may become cancerous and are usually performed if the less invasive tests indicate the possibility of colon cancer.

CT scans and x-rays can also help with colorectal cancer diagnosis, by providing an image of the colon for analysis.

Colon Cancer Treatment

Colon Cancer Treatment:

Western Medicine offers various options for colon cancer treatment including surgery, chemotherapy and medications.  The type of treatment prescribed will depend on the stage of your cancer and your overall health.

Depending on whether the cancer is attached to the walls of the colon or not, surgery may be a successful treatment option.  If the cancer isn’t attached to the colon wall, a surgeon will likely be able to remove the polyp.  If the cancer has spread to the colon walls, a section of the colon or rectum may need to be removed.  This can result in needing colostomy, where an opening is created in the abdomen for waste removal.

Chemotherapy is a form of colon cancer treatment which is used to kill and control cancerous cells.  It is sometimes used after surgery to target the remaining cancer cells, however there are side effects which come with this treatment option.  Radiation is often used alongside chemotherapy and surgery to kill cancer cells using a beam of energy similar to x-rays. 

Another option for colon cancer treatment is medications, which can be used to treat cancer which doesn’t respond to the other treatment options.

Colon Cancer Treatment

How Can I Prevent Colon Cancer?

Although certain risk factors such as age and family history can’t be avoided, there are other ways you can reduce your risk of getting colorectal cancer.  To reduce your chances of getting colon cancer, you can avoid consuming large amounts of red and processed meats and alcohol, exercise daily and reduce your weight if you’re overweight or obese, quit smoking, eat more plant-based foods, and decrease stress levels.  Having colon cancer screening after you turn 45 years old will also help to catch colon cancer in the early stages.  While most people survive colorectal cancer if treated from stage 1 of the cancer, once the cancer progresses to stage 4 the chances of survival are a lot lower.

Colon Cancer Treatment

How Can Chinese Medicine Help?

Chinese Medicine can often be used alongside Western Medicine treatments for colon cancer.  Techniques like acupuncture can be very effective, particularly for treating pain and the side effects caused by other colon cancer treatments like surgery and chemotherapy. Many people find acupuncture helpful and effective, especially as it rarely has any side effects.  Chinese Medicine can also help with colon cancer by reducing inflammation and swelling, boosting the immune system, and helping relieve nausea and vomiting.

Overall, colon cancer is survivable, especially if diagnosed in the early stages by screening such as faecal tests.  You can help prevent colon cancer by lifestyle adjustments like eating less processed and red meats, exercising regularly and reducing smoking and alcohol consumption.  Colon cancer treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and medications, which depend on the stage of your cancer.  Chinese Medicine can also help you treat colorectal cancer, by boosting your body in a natural way, and helping to deal with side effects and pain.

Click here for more information about cancer and Chinese Medicine. For more information about how acupuncture can help treat cancer, click here.

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