Colon Cancer: What Are Different Stages, Symptoms And Other Details

Cancer occurring in the large intestine is known as colon cancer and it can happen in all three parts i.e ascending, transverse and descending part of the colon.

Colon cancer is divided into four stages from I to IV depending upon the physical extent of the cancer within and out of colon.
Colon cancer is divided into four stages from I to IV depending upon the physical extent of the cancer within and out of colon.

Pandit Bhajan Sopori, Santoor maestro and Sufi exponent, breathed his last at a hospital in Gurugram on Thursday. He was diagnosed with colon cancer stage IV and the disease had spread to the liver and bones. He was under treatment at Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI), Gurugram, since February 2022 and had received chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy over the last couple of months. HealthWire spoke to Dr Amit Bhargava – Senior Consultant Medical Oncology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad – to understand more about the disease. Here are excerpts:

What is colon cancer?

Cancer occurring in the large intestine is known as colon cancer and it can happen in all three parts i.e ascending, transverse and descending part of the colon.

What are the different stages and symptoms?

Colon cancer is divided into four stages from I to IV depending upon the physical extent of the cancer within and out of colon. Patients initially may present with constipation which may worsen with time.

Diarrhoea, altered bowel habits, blood in stools, abdominal cramps and pain are the symptoms of Colon cancer. One must pay attention to them if they are progressing with time and do not get cured by conventional treatment.

What are possible treatments for colon cancer?

For smaller stage cancers patients may be cured by surgery alone and may not require chemotherapy or target therapy or Immunotherapy. As the colon cancer increases in size and extent post-surgical chemotherapy and/or targeted therapy may be needed to cure the colon cancer.

For larger Timor’s which may not be amenable for surgery upfront, chemotherapy is used to downstage (reduce the size) of the cancer to make it operable and then post surgery chemotherapy again may be used to consolidate the treatment.

For most of the metastatic disease surgery may not give a cure to the patient, in such cases depending upon the biology of the cancer chemotherapy/ targeted therapy or immunotherapy are used to prolong the life of the patients.

How chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy are different from each other?

Chemotherapy causes direct damage to the cancer cells and kills them by this mechanism. Since cancer cells and normal cells are not very different physiologically, side effects profile is a bit high with chemotherapy.

By doing certain advanced tests on the biopsy blocks we can find certain targets, which promote cancer growth. Hitting these targets with certain medicines which reduce cancer proliferation is called targeted therapy.

Side effect profile is better than chemotherapy with certain targeted therapies. Immunotherapy works on the programmed cell death receptors and accelerates the ageing process within the tumor cells and making the die faster.

Depending upon the biology and behaviour of the colon cancer different modalities are used to treat cancer. That’s why a proper biopsy is very important to have an effective treatment plan for colon cancer patients

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