Also known as bowel cancer or colon cancer, colorectal cancer is cancer of the large intestine and rectum. Colon cancer takes a long time to develop, findings say between 5 and ten years. It grows by starting in the lining of the bowel walls. These small growths may become cancerous and then grow into the muscle layers of the lining and through the bowel wall. This growth can then lead to spreading into secondary cancers in the body. There are three primary treatments for colon cancer and then various supporting treatments depending on your initial diagnosis.
Despite the fact that colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the USA, it is considered as a very preventable disease, provided people with risk factors such as older age (60 years or older), a positive family history, and the presence of a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, are regularly monitored. If you feel you are at high risk, talk to a medical professional who will guide you through the routine testing you might need to treat or to detect a precancerous lesion. In addition to regular medical assessments, incorporating a high fiber content and prebiotics to your diet has been demonstrated to promote a healthy gut lining in parallel to maintaining a healthy gut flora which is a major player in the prevention of cancer genes expression.
Surgery is the most appropriate treatment for early stage bowel cancer; in such case, limited surgery can be performed in a less invasive manner, if the tumor has not yet spread to the structures adjacent to the colon. The surgeon will then remove just a small portion of the lining of the colon where the tumor is located. However, if the growth has spread, then the surgery may be a colectomy, which is the removal of the entire colon along with the satellite lymph nodes. This removal happens by an open colectomy, keyhole colectomy, or a robotic keyhole surgery. Surgery for colorectal cancer may be combined with other treatments to ensure that no cancer cell remains, decreasing thereby, the risk of recurrence of the disease, or metastatic propagation.
Chemotherapy is the administration of a course of medication called cytotoxic drugs, or anti-cancer drugs. Cancer grows by cells dividing multiple times to become a tumor. Chemotherapy works by destroying cells that are in the process of proliferating, but it exposes the entire body to the drugs and their damaging side effects. Chemotherapy is a treatment used in many different stages of cancer and must be absorbed into the bloodstream by either intravenous injection, directly into a vein over the course of a couple of hours, or orally by taking a tablet to swallow. Both forms have many serious side effects such as nausea, fatigue and weakness, pain, diarrhea, vomiting, blood disorders and mouth and throat sores.
Radiotherapy sends high doses of radiation into the body to destroy cancer cells. It is considered to be a local treatment, as it is targeting mainly cancer cells; as an attempt to protect the neighboring healthy tissue, the focus of the radiation beam, the doses and the exposure time will be carefully calculated to minimize collateral damage. Radiotherapy treatment can be given in two ways. External radiotherapy is delivered from outside the body by a machine that uses a radiation beam directed at cancer cells. Internal radiotherapy works by the patient ingesting radioactive liquids either orally or intravenously, heading straight to the tumor site.
As stated by the name, chemo-radiotherapy is a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. They can be taken either at the same time or one after the other depending on the cancer location and growth. This combination is indicated because chemotherapy drugs may render cancer cells more sensitive to radiation therapy. This treatment will often be suggested before surgery to shrink cancer to the fullest extent before removing what is left. After surgery, you may have to return to one or both treatments. Side effects experienced by the patient treated with this combination of therapies can be more severe than with just one of these treatments.
Targeted therapies are also known as biological therapies or personalized therapies. These specific drugs are used to pinpoint particular cancer cells and block their growth, prevent the growth of blood vessels that nourish the tumor or target specific proteins of cancers. The rationale behind these rather novel therapies is that this treatment will damage cancer cells while preserving healthy cells. Doctors determine the appropriate specific drug by conducting tests on the individual's particular cancer and will administer it usually in conjunction with other treatment such as chemotherapy.
Biological therapies for colon cancer are used at the early stage of detection; they were shown to help the body regain the control of the growth of cancer cells. They primarily use three different blockers: monoclonal antibodies which stop the cancer cells from dividing, anti-angiogenesis drugs which stop the blood supply to the cancer cells, and cancer growth blockers such as regorafenib, which halt distinct proteins from binding to the cancer cells. This latter has been used in clinical trials for metastatic colorectal cancer. This therapy has numerous side effects such as fatigue and nausea, loss of appetite and a sore mouth.
According to some studies a high dose of vitamin C, taken through an IV, has been shown to have enormous benefits to fighting many types of cancers, including colon cancer. Vitamin C may slow down cancer growth and spread without affecting healthy cells. Once absorbed by the cancer cells, vitamin C forms hydrogen peroxide, which, in turn, kills the cancer cells. However, up to date, there is no clear evidence in regard to how Vitamin C can either help or hinder other cancer treatments occurring at the same time.
Many supplements, known as elixirs, are available as supportive therapies following surgery. These natural supplements can be used alone, but they do seem to have a unique synergy with chemotherapies and produce better results when working together.
Many herbs and spices used in Ayurvedic medicine have important cancer-fighting properties. Ayurveda is an Indian holistic healing system which links the state of our health to the balanced quality of our nutrition. Garlic, Green tea, ginger root, and turmeric are common items that are beneficial to ingest when fighting colon cancer, as is the use of aloe vera along with apple cider vinegar. These herbs cleanse the colon and eliminate toxins. Harder to find herbs may be Ashwagandha, which can inhibit the tumor cell growth, and Celadine, from the poppy, to boost the immune system.
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