Colon cancer is a third leading cause of death in United States. It can occur at any age but people above 50 are at the highest risk. It begins as clump of cells called polyp in the colon which transform into malignant cells after series of mutations. Polyps tend to cause very few symptoms so they are not detectable without proper screening of high-risk patients. Proper screening of high-risk patients is often recommended by the doctors in order to decrease the incidence of colon cancer. Colon cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy if detected in early stages. Some of the predisposing factors are ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease, age above 50, diet low in fiber and high in animal proteins and refined carbohydrates. Colon cancer can spread to lungs, liver and brain in later stages through lymphatics or bloodstream. Symptoms normally appear when cancer has already metastasized to surrounding organs. Some of the major symptoms are listed below but three main symptoms are abdominal discomfort, change in bowel habits and rectal bleed. It is advised to do colonoscopy every 3-5 years in patients who are predisposed to risk factors of colon cancer.
Diarrhea due to colon cancer can alternate with constipation. It can be the earliest symptom that can take the patient to the hospital. Diarrhea can be more than a trouble for people with cancer — it can often be a sign of something worse.
You must inform your physician as soon as possible if you have any of the following signs or symptoms:
- 6 or more loose stools per day for more than 2 days
- Rectal bleed
- Weight loss due to diarrhea
- Fever of 100.5 F (38 C)
- No control over bowel movements
- Diarrhea with cramps
- Diarrhea accompanied by dizziness or unconsciousness
Diarrhea is an unpleasant but common side effect in people receiving treatment for cancer. Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy causes extreme episodes of diarrhea.
People with severe diarrhea need to be admitted to the hospital for fluid administration and electrolyte balance. Proper nutrition should be given to the patient so that weight loss can be prevented. Talk to your doctor immediately if you are suffering from prolonged diarrhea. Common medications for cancer-related diarrhea include:
- These medications can also reduce your diarrhea by reducing bowel movement.
- Anti-secretory agents.These drugs mitigate the secretion of excessive fluid by the body. Common example is Sandostatin