A First-Of-Its-Kind Magazine On Environment Which Is For Nature, Of Nature, By Us (RNI No.: UPBIL/2016/66220)

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Dr Deepak K Agarwal

TreeTake is a monthly bilingual colour magazine on environment that is fully committed to serving Mother Nature with well researched, interactive and engaging articles and lots of interesting info.

Dr Deepak K Agarwal

Dr Deepak K Agarwal

Dr Deepak K Agarwal

Specialist's Corner

Colon Cancer: A condition that may spring up on you

Colon cancer and piles are very different conditions, but they both can produce blood in the stool. Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine that forms in the lining of the colon. Most cases of colon cancer begin as small clumps of cells called colon polyps. While these polyps start out as benign, if not discovered and removed, usually during a colonoscopy, they can become cancerous and develop into colon cancer.

Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Many cases of colorectal cancer have no symptoms or warning signs until the cancer has advanced. However, the following symptoms may indicate colon cancer. Of course, other conditions can cause the same symptoms, such as piles, IBD infection, etc., so patients should consult their doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms.

Unexplained anaemia

Anaemia refers to a lowering of red blood cell count. In terms of colon cancer anaemia may be caused by a microscopic amount of chronic blood loss in the stool. In this case, iron is lost with the red blood cells and can slowly deplete the total body stores of iron. The production of new red blood cells is reduced and eventually the total red blood cell count decreases causing anaemia. Anaemia can also cause fatigue because the red blood cells are responsible for delivering oxygen to the body tissues. In women, an iron deficiency is commonly seen during menstruation. However, for men, iron deficiency is uncommon and needs to be further investigated by a physician.

Unexplained weight loss

A drop in your weight is usually celebrated, but if you don’t have an explanation for a significant amount of weight loss, that could be a little scary. Unexplained weight loss due to colon cancer may not occur until the cancer is in its advanced stages. One of the other symptoms of colon cancer is diarrhoea that lasts for more than a few days. Diarrhoea can also cause weight loss. Abdominal pain is another symptom of colon cancer that may prevent you from eating normally. If you have lost a significant amount of weight accompanied with these symptoms, you need to talk to your doctor immediately to determine the cause.

Changes in bowel habits

Every now and then, we all experience changes in our bowels. We may experience diarrhoea or constipation due to something we ate or due to being sick with something like the flu. But changes in you bowel habits that continue may indicate a more serious condition. If you experience diarrhoea or constipation that lasts for more than a few weeks, you need to talk to your doctor. Another change in bowel habits that may indicate colon cancer is having narrower than normal stools or other changes in the appearance of your stool. If your stool looks pencil-thin or looks different for more than a few weeks, you need to talk to your doctor.

Blood in stool

Anal bleeding is a serious subject, no matter the cause. Having a doctor take a closer at your symptoms can determine whether the cause is a condition like haemorrhoids or if it is something more serious, like colon cancer, and decide on the right course of treatment. If you notice either bright red or very dark blood in your stool, along with severe pain, you need to contact your physician as soon as possible. Your doctor will be able to examine you and will most likely suggest a colonoscopy to check for polyps or tumours that may the source of the problem.

Abdominal pain

Almost everyone experiences abdominal pain, bloating or cramps at some point in their life. Most of the time it is not caused by a serious condition, and the severity of your pain is does not necessarily reflect the seriousness of the condition causing the pain. However, if you experience any amount of abdominal pain that is unfamiliar, you should talk to your doctor. They may have a simple solution to your pain, or further testing to diagnose a more serious cause may be recommended. Be sure to listen to your body and recognize when something doesn’t feel quite right.


Vomiting can be caused by a number of normal occurrences: motion sickness, a virus or unpleasant sights or smells. But if nausea and vomiting are accompanied with other symptoms such as constipation or pain, colon cancer could be the cause. When vomiting is a symptom of colon cancer, it is usually because a tumour is causing a bowel obstruction. Depending on the severity of the blockage, solids, liquids and even gas may be prevented from passing through the colon. This can lead to painful stomach cramps and constipation. Either of these symptoms can result in nausea and vomiting.

Risk Factors for Colon Cancer

Though scientists are unsure of exactly what causes colon and colorectal cancer, some risk factors have been identified as: Age; Polyps (growths inside the colon and rectum) that may become cancerous; A high-fat diet; Family history of colon cancer or polyps; Inflammatory bowel diseases involving the colon; Sedentary lifestyle;   Diabetes; Smoking; Alcohol; Obesity.

Tests to Diagnose Colon Cancer


Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Virtual Colonoscopy

Faecal Occult Blood test (FOBT)

Double Contract Barium Enema (DCBE)

Treatments for Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is both preventable and highly treatable when detected early. There are a number of screening options to check for colon cancer, but a colonoscopy is considered the gold standard. Ask your doctor about which screening methods are right for you.

The three primary treatment options available for colon cancer are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Treatment options for colon cancer depend on the stage and location of the cancer, whether the cancer has recurred and the patient’s general health. The surgical option, a partial colectomy, is the main treatment and includes removing the affected portion of the colon. How much of the colon is removed and whether it is done in conjunction with other treatments will depend on the location of the cancer, how deep it has penetrated the wall of the bowel and if it has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

In surgical treatment, the part of the colon that contains the cancer, as well as portions of healthy colon on either side, will be removed to ensure no cancer is left behind. Nearby lymph nodes will be removed and tested at the same time. Usually the doctor is able to reconnect the healthy portions of the colon, but if that is not possible the patient will have a temporary or permanent colostomy bag. A colostomy bag is a device that is worn on the skin discreetly under the clothing and is attached to the remaining bowel. Waste material travels into this bag which is then disposed of, and the bag is replaced as needed. Sometimes, a colostomy is done temporarily to give the bowel time to heal. It may become permanent if too much of the colon or the rectum has to be removed.

If the cancer is small, early stage and localized in a polyp, it is possible it may all be removed during a colonoscopy.

If the cancer is very advanced or the patient’s health is extremely poor, surgery may be done simply to provide comfort. This is an operation that will relieve a blockage of the colon to improve symptoms. This will not cure cancer but may relieve pain and bleeding.

Chemotherapy can be used after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells, and may be recommended by the doctor if the cancer has spread beyond the lining of the colon. Chemotherapy can be used in conjunction with radiation. Radiation therapy uses powerful energy sources to kill any cancer cells that may remain after surgery or to shrink large tumours before an operation. This option is rarely used in the early stages of colon cancer.


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