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Colon Cancer: What Is It?

Colon Cancer

Colon Cancer:

Colon cancer, also called colorectal cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in your large intestine (colon) or rectum. These organs are part of the lower digestive system.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer (excluding common skin cancers) in America, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). One out of every 25 men and 1 out of every 23 women are diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer during their lifetime, the American Cancer Society (ACS) states.

The symptoms, treatment and outlook for colon cancer vary depending on what stage your cancer is in its development.

Colon Cancer: Stages

The staging process is used by doctors as a general guideline to figure out how far along the cancer is. It’s important for doctors to know what stage your cancer is at because it helps determine the best treatment plan for you. This also lets them estimate the long-term outlook for your health.

For colon cancer, stages from 0 to 4 are used, with stage 0 being the earliest stage and stage 4 being the most advanced.  The stages are defined as:

Stage 0: The abnormal cells in this stage of colon cancer are only found inside the inner lining of our rectum or colon. Another name for this stage is “carcinoma in situ”.

Stage 1: The cancer has penetrated the mucosa (lining) of the colon or rectum. It may have grown into the muscle layer, but hasn’t spread to other parts of your body.

Stage 2: The cancer has spread to the walls of the colon, rectum or nearby tissues. It hasn’t affected the lymph nodes yet.

Stage 3: The lymph nodes have become affected by the cancer, but other parts of the body have not been reached.

Stage 4: The spread of the cancer has reached distant organs like the lungs and liver.

Colon Cancer

Symptoms of Colon Cancer: Early Stages

In the early stages of colon cancer, you might not experience any symptoms at all.  However, patients with stages 0 to 2 colon cancer often experience some of the following symptoms:

-constipation or diarrhea

-changes in stool color or shape, (for example narrowed stool)

-excessive gas

-abdominal pain and cramps

-blood in the stool

-bleeding from the rectum

Many of the symptoms mentioned here may be caused by less serious conditions. However, it is a good idea to see your doctor if you’ve had any of these symptoms for longer than a week or two. You and your doctor can then decide if colon cancer screening will be appropriate for you.

Colon Cancer

Symptoms of Colon Cancer: Late Stages

Stages 3 and 4 (late stage colon cancer) often present more noticeable symptoms. In addition to the above symptoms, you could experience: unexplained weakness, excessive fatigue, unintentional weight loss, changes in your stool that last longer than a month, feeling like your bowels won’t empty fully, and vomiting.

If colon cancer spreads to other parts of your body, you may also experience: blurry vision, breathing difficulties, jaundice, swelling in the hands or feet, chronic headaches, and bone fractures.

Colon Cancer

Colon Cancer: How can Chinese Medicine Help?

Although modern Western Medicine has many treatment options available for colorectal cancer, such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, these all tend to be quite harsh on the body.  So some patients choose to use Traditional Chinese Medicine as well, or instead of these treatments.  Of course, everyone’s situation is different, and some treatments work better for some people compared to others.  It is also important to consider the stage of the cancer when choosing a treatment plan.

Chinese Medicine, especially acupuncture, can help with many aspects of cancer, from controlling pain and reducing inflammation to boosting the immune system and soothing nausea.  Acupuncture can also help you deal with the side effects from chemotherapy and surgery.  However, the main advantages of treating cancer with acupuncture are that the whole body is treated holistically, and all the systems are rebalanced. Acupuncture is also gentle, because it has very little or no side effects. 

See our website at for more information about how we can help treat cancer with Chinese Medicine.

Colon Cancer

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Mel. (n.d.). Acupuncture for Cancer. Centre of Balance Hamilton: Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine.

Wint, C., Nelson, J., Behring, S. (2021, November 22). Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer (Also Known as Colorectal Cancer). Healthline.