Even if you do not know much about the colon or its functions within the human body, you probably realize that any type of cancer can be serious. Though it is curable when caught early, treatment can be extremely challenging and it takes its toll on the patient. The recovery period may be extensive, so it is important to take advantage of free home healthcare services and other available resources. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed, some important information may also help you understand what to expect.
Overview of Colon Cancer
According to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, around 1 in 20 people in the US will develop colon cancer in their lifetimes. This type of cancer affects the large intestine, which is the final section of your digestive tract before elimination. Colon cancer usually begins as a small, clump of cells which are not a threat and cause few symptoms. Regular screening and removal of these polyps can prevent them from turning into cancer.
However, left undetected and untreated, these polyps can develop into colon cancer with serious, noticeable symptoms. You should see a physician or make an appointment for a loved one for:
- Any change in bowel habits or frequency, if the situation lasts longer than a month;
- Increased diarrhea, constipation, or a change in stool consistency;
- Cramps, pain, unusual gas, bloated feeling, or other discomfort;
- Blood in the stool;
- A feeling that you did not fully evacuate your bowels;
- Weight loss;
- Fatigue; and,
- Any other unusual digestive issues.
The medical industry does not have a clear picture on what causes colon cancer, but there is agreement among experts on certain factors that may increase the likelihood of developing the disease. Risk factors include:
- Age, since people over 50 are more likely to be diagnosed;
- A personal history of polyps;
- Intestinal issues, such as inflammatory bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis;
- Heredity, if a parent, sibling, or other close relative had colon cancer;
- Eating a diet that is high in fat and low in fiber;
- Low levels of activity or a sedentary lifestyle;
- Excessive alcohol use; and,
Treatment for Colon Cancer
The best treatment is prevention through regular colon screenings to identify polyps and remove them before they become colon cancer. However, other treatments are highly effective. Through surgery, it is possible to remove a tumor and surrounding tissue. Many of these procedures are minimally invasive. Chemotherapy is also an option and may be the recommended route in some situations.
Colon Cancer and Home Healthcare
Regardless of the type of treatment your doctor recommends, you could lose some personal independence and require assistance during your recovery. Free home healthcare services may be available to support your needs as you get back on your feet. If you have questions or want to know more about eligibility, please contact United Energy Workers Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care. A member of our team can tell you more about our services for patients with colon cancer or many other types of medical conditions.