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Colon Cancer Stage 4 - All You Need To Know About Colon Cancer

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Colon cancer is the third most diagnosed type of cancer in men and women in the United States. It is a deadly cancer, but with proper treatment and early detection can be cured. Most colon cancers begin as an abnormal growth in the lining of the colon, or a polyp. These may or may not be cancerous. Colon cancer stage 4, or metastatic cancer, is the most advanced stage in this particular type of cancer and usually has spread to other organs at this point in illness.
There are a few factors that may contribute to having colon cancer, one of them being family history. Those with family members who have a medical history of colon cancer have a slightly higher risk in developing this disease. Other factors include smoking, a history of benign polyps, and a diet high in animal fat and love in fiber. These factors may also contribute to a relapse in colon cancer, whether it is in a local site or has spread to another site in the body.

Colon cancer stage 4 can be diagnosed anywhere from the first polyp to sometime after treatment has begun. The first signs of this cancer can be detected if there is blood in the stool or if during a colonoscopy a polyp is discovered. Other things to look out for include abnormal blood test, abnormal imaging, abnormal liver function results, abdominal discomfort, and loss of appetite, especially if you have an aversion to meat. These are all symptoms of colon cancer stage 4. If any of these symptoms are present, a biopsy of the tumor in the colon will be taken to confirm that it is cancerous. In addition, if the doctor believes the cancer to have spread to other organs, a biopsy of those sites may be taken as well. Colon cancer that has spread to other organs is still considered colon cancer. The most common sites during colon cancer stage 4 are the liver and the lungs.
The stages of colon cancer range from 0 to 4, with four being the most aggressive type. In order to determine the stage of cancer, there are three factors that are considered, including: how deep the tumor has penetrated the wall of the colon, if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, and if the cancer has spread. Colon cancer stage 4 is independent of the first two factors; if there is evidence of spreading, then stage 4 is solely defined by this last factor.

If a diagnosis occurs for colon cancer stage 4, there are several options to treat the cancer. Surgery is one choice, however surgeons may not be able to remove all the cancer, therefore, this is not the most viable option for colon cancer stage 4. Chemotherapy and radiation is another way to treat colon cancer. The goal with this treatment is to shrink or slow the growth of the cancer. It is important to note that colon cancer stage 4 has a highly individualized treatment plan. It is imperative that you speak with a team of doctors to get the most effective and promising treatments.

In regards to treatment, colon cancer stage 4 patients usually use chemotherapy or radiation. Chemotherapy aims to slow the growth or destroy cancer cells through different combinations of drugs. Sometimes doctors will recommend chemotherapy pre-surgery to make the operation easier or more accessible. This type of chemotherapy will last a few months. Otherwise, chemotherapy will occur post surgery and last anywhere from four to six months. Despite its effective treatment towards the cancer cells, chemotherapy can cause some serious side effects including nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, mouth sores, numbness, hair loss, decrease blood cell production and temperature sensitivity. However, it should be noted that everyone reacts to chemotherapy differently.

Radiation does not use drugs, but high energy beams to kill the cancer cells. Usually radiation is used in conjunction with chemotherapy, or chemoradiation. This makes for a more effective, and stronger, treatment. Usually with colon cancer stage 4, the radiation is aimed at the pelvic region. Side effects of radiation therapy in these areas of the body can include, diarrhea, abdominal pressure, rectal and urination discomfort, nausea, fatigue and skin irritation.

The prognosis for colon cancer stage 4 is between 8-15%. Most patients with colon cancer live about 5 years after they are diagnosed. However, these are estimates only. Each case of colon cancer is different and it depends on a number of factors, including age, overall health, type and grade, and your response to the treatment that is being administered.

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