A colon cancer is a cancerous growth that occurs in the large intestine (colon) or the rectum (end of colon). Other names for colon caner are colorectal cancer or large bowel cancer.
A colon is a part of the digestive system which is responsible for absorbing nutrients and water. It also helps in the excretion process, by storing and controlling evacuation of fecal matter. The right side of the colon plays the major role in absorbing water and electrolytes, while the left side is responsible for storage and evacuation of stool.
Colon cancer grows along the walls and spreads to distant organs like liver, lungs, brain and bones. In most cases, the colon cancer develops as benign polyps, finger like growths, at the beginning. If left untreated they may become malignant and spread to other organs.
The process to find out if the cancer has spread within the colon or to other parts is termed as staging. The information gathered from the staging process helps to evaluate the stage of the disease. This evaluation helps in order to plan treatment. There are five stages of colon cancer.
• Stage 1(Dukes A colon cancer): Cancer cells are formed and spread beyond the innermost tissue layer of the colon wall to the middle layer.
• Stage 2 (Dukes B colon cancer): Stage 2 is further divided into two stages:
• Stage 2A: Cancer spreads beyond middle layer to nearby tissues around the colon and rectum.
• Stage 2B: Cancer spreads beyond colon wall to nearby organs.
• Stage 3 : (Dukes C colon cancer): Cancer spreads to 3 or 4 lymph nodes.
• Stage 4 : (Dukes D colon cancer): Cancer spread beyond lymph nodes to other organs such as liver or lungs.
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