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A Comprehensive Guide To Colon Cancer – CancerMitr

Colon Cancer

Abnormal cell division or mitosis leads to the formation of harmful lumps of tissue called tumours or neoplasms. There are two types of tumours or neoplasms; benign and malignant. Malignant tumours are fatal because they divide abnormally, spread and invade other parts of the human body, eventually leading to the person’s death. 

What is colon cancer?

The colon or large intestine is the portion of the human digestive tract where water is absorbed, and bacteria break down the rest of the substances, which are then moved to the rectum. The rectum holds the waste until it is pushed out through the anus, a process called defecation. 

Colon cancer is a condition that affects the colon, where malignant tumours are found in the large intestine. Also known as colorectal cancer, it is a disease that is mostly seen in older adults. 

Also read: Benign and malignant tumours Why is it essential to understand the distinction

Where does colon cancer start?

The colon or large intestine is divided into the following parts; 

It is the part where the food from the small intestine comes in and continues upward on the right side of the person’s abdomen.

It is the portion of the large intestine that goes across the body.

It is the portion of the large intestine that descends downwards on the left side.

It is the “S” shaped structure that joins the rectum, which is then connected to the anus. 

The ascending colon and transverse colon sections together are called the proximal colon.

The descending colon and sigmoid colon are called the distal colon.

Colon cancer can affect any of the portions mentioned above.

The peculiarity of this disease is that it usually begins as a small benign tumour called a polyp. However, the polyp is precancerous and should be treated to prevent possible malignancy. 

Different types of polyps are as follows; 

They are fasting-growing precancerous polyps. Depending on location, they are divided into tubular, villous, and tubulovillous.

They are common and need not be precancerous but require screening to check for their malignancy.

They are polyps with a high risk of developing into malignant tumours.

They can also develop into colorectal cancer if left untreated.

What are the different types of colon cancer? 

Most colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas which begin in the cells that make mucous to lubricate the inner portions of the colon and rectum. 

These begin in the intestine’s hormone-making cells.

It begins in the interstitial cells of Cajal and can be either benign or malignant.

They are generally described as cancers of the immune system and mostly start in the lymph nodes. Non- Hodgkin lymphoma is mostly found in the digestive tract.

It is the type of cancer that begins in the blood vessels, muscle layers or other connective tissues in the colon or rectum. It is a rare type of cancer.

Also read: A healthy lifestyle and early screening help us deal with hormone dependent cancer: Dr Sandip Bipte shares his expertise 

What are the different stages of colon cancer? 

The staging of colon cancer depends on how much or how far cancer has grown or spread. The treatment plan is determined based on the stage of colon cancer. 

The layers of the colon wall are as follows; 

Mucosa or the inner lining is where nearly all colorectal cancers begin. The portion beneath the layer, which consists of fibrous tissue, is called the submucosa. Next to it consists of a thick muscle layer. Subserosa and serosa cover the outer portion of the colon (but not the rectum). Tumour is found in any of the layers.


The staging process is done based on the American Joint Committee on Cancer or AJCC TNM system.

It depends on how far cancer has grown out of the colon or rectum. Tis refers to a state where the tumour is at it’s earliest stage. T1-T4 refers to the degree of the tumour’s growth. 

It checks whether the cancer tumour has spread to the nearby lymph nodes. N0 refers to the stage where the tumour has not grown into the lymph nodes. N1-N4 refers to how many lymph nodes it has affected. 

It depends on whether the tumour has spread to nearby organs or distant sites. M0 refers to the state where the tumour has not metastasised, whereas M1 means that it has metastasized. 

Think you have colorectal cancer? Get a free consultation.

What are the different grades of colon cancer? 

Grading of the cancer tumour focuses on how much the tumour cells resemble normal cells under the microscope.

There are three types of grades;

The tumour cells resemble the normal cells.

The tumour cells resemble normal cells.

Tumour cells are completely different from normal cells.

The cancer treatment method is determined based on the staging and grading. 

How is colon cancer diagnosed? 

Imaging methods like CT scans, Ultrasound, and body MRI can help determine the presence of colon cancer. 

Commonly used tests for Colon cancer are listed as follows; 

The tumour cells resemble the normal cells.

The tumour cells resemble normal cells.

Tumour cells are completely different from normal cells.

Tumour cells are completely different from normal cells.

It is the procedure that helps in determining whether the tumour is benign or malignant. The medical expert takes a sample of the tumour and checks its laboratory conditions. 

Additional testing and screening procedures, like CT scans, or MRIs, are utilised to determine the extent of the tumour’s spread. Other methods include the Guaiac-based faecal occult blood test (gFOBT), CEA tumour marker, and Fecal immunochemical test (FIT), where the faeces is tested for the presence of a protein that suggests cancer.

Hence, the treatment strategy is put together in accordance with that. 

CancerMitr provides a number of screening and testing packages to detect the presence of abnormal cells in the colon.

For further information, follow the link provided.

What are the various colon cancer treatment methods? 

Treatment is determined based on the tumour’s location, stage, and grade. Surgery is the most important treatment method. Surgical methods for the early stage of the tumour are as follows; 

If the precancerous polyps are detected through a colonoscopy, they can be removed.

In this procedure, the larger polyps are removed with a special tool.

Polyps that cannot be removed during the colonoscopy are removed through smaller incisions in the abdomen. The procedure involves attached cameras and monitors. 

Surgeries for advanced colon cancer are as follows; 

It is the process of removing the portion of the colon with the cancer tumour. The healthy parts are then reconnected.

An ostomy is done if the colon’s healthy sections cannot be rejoined. It is the attachment of a bag to the opening wall of the abdomen to help eliminate the stools. This is usually a temporary procedure, but depending on the surgical removal of the colon, some patients require a permanent colostomy.

Apart from the cancer-affected colons, cancer-affected lymph nodes are also surgically removed.

Other treatment options;

It is a medical treatment where powerful drugs are administered into the human body to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy is required if the cancer tumour is too big and has affected the nearby lymph nodes. It is also given to relieve the symptoms of colon cancer in stage III and stage IV or if the tumour cannot be removed surgically.

It is a form of treatment where powerful energy sources like X-rays and protons kill cancer cells. A combination of both chemotherapy and radiation therapy is given to patients depending on the stage and grade of the tumour. 

It is a form of treatment that focuses on the specific abnormalities present within the cancer cells. Targeted drug therapy is reserved for patients with advanced cancer. 

It is an effective treatment process where the body’s immune system is triggered to kill the cancer cells. Immunotherapy is reserved for advanced people and depends on how well the person responds to the cancer treatment. 

Seeking treatment for colon cancer? Check out various packages offered by CancerMitr. 

What are the different side effects of colon cancer treatment? 

Surgical removal of the colon leads to severe pain that takes a while to come down. In addition, surgical removal of cancer-affected colon leads to issues with bowel habits. Supportive treatment is required to help the patient cope with the same. 

The side effects of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy include; 

  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nail changes
  • Skin changes
  • Increased chance of infections 
  • Easy bruising or bleeding 
  • Fatigue 
  • Neuropathy 
  • Allergies 

The symptoms mentioned above vary from person to person depending on their age, the presence of co-morbidities, and the supportive therapy they take. 

What are the supportive therapies for colon cancer? 

Colon cancer patients experience digestive problems until the treatment process is done. Patients who have undergone surgery should consult an oncology dietician for a suitable diet. In addition, patients suffering from chemotherapy or radiation therapy side effects like nausea or vomiting, mouth sores etc., require a diet adjustment.

Cancer and cancer treatment leads to a lot of stress, depression and anxiety. Patients require proper mental health counselling to cope with all that. Patients and their families are also provided with career counselling, marriage counselling, grief counselling and other types of support.

Patients who struggle with movement after cancer require support for the movement and day-to-day activities. Patients are provided with equipment that helps their mobility and to adjust their colostomy bag. 

To cope with side effects of other cancer treatments like chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy, cancer patients can opt for supportive methods like Flower bach, Mistletoe therapy, Tibetan therapy, Homeopathy and Ayurveda.

What lifestyle changes are people with colon cancer expected to make? 

  • Colon cancer patients should keep their family and friends close to cope with the disease and to have the required support. 
  • Colon cancer patients should stop self-destructive lifestyle habits like smoking, drinking and chewing tobacco. 
  • Cancer patients should stick to the diet suggested by the oncology dietician or nutritionist and avoid food items with high sugar and spice content. Eat food with vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 
  • Patients who can do physical work should do physical workouts for at least 30 minutes for better fitness. 
  • Caregivers should ensure that patients are able to move seamlessly with the required tools or equipment. Ensure that their bed is close to the bathroom.

What are the important follow-up care steps after colon cancer treatment? 

As scary as it sounds, cancer can come back. Patients should follow the instructions of their doctor and undergo testing and screening every 3-6 months. Doctors suggest various options like CT scans, colonoscopies, carcinoembryonic antigens (CEA), and sigmoidoscopy. 
The frequency of these testing options varies, and patients should consult their doctors for the same. 
Patients should continue their healthy lifestyle habits, including weight management, after the treatment as well.

In conclusion

Colon cancer survivor Charles Quarton stated that, “it’s a big bridge to cross from seeing cancer as a death sentence to seeing it as a chronic disease.” 
Never see cancer as a death sentence. There are solutions to every challenge

CancerMitr is there for all cancer patients like a good friend, from discovery to recovery. 
For more information, contact our team at 9663071088.

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