Overview Of Malignant Large Bowel Tumor
Malignant large bowel tumors are associated with colorectal cancer, or cancer of the large intestine and colon. One of the common kinds of colorectal cancer develops when the lining of the large intestine grows abnormally and leads to the formation of a small lump called a polyp. Some polyps can further develop into cancer, but cutting out the polyp can prevent it from progressing to a cancerous stage.
Left untreated, colorectal cancer can spread beyond the intestines and form new tumors in the liver, peritoneal lining, brain, bones, or lungs.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) may also be referred to as colon cancer, rectal cancer, or bowel cancer.
Causes Of Malignant Large Bowel Tumor
Colon cancer has no single cause. Almost all colon cancers start as noncancerous polyps in the lining of the colon and rectum and slowly develop into cancerous tumors.
Developing colon cancer is more likely if you:
- Are 50 years or older
- Of eastern European descent or African American
- Consume a lot of processed or red meats
- Smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol
- Have colorectal polyps
- Experience inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn disease)
- Colon cancer runs in your family
Some inherited diseases, like Lynch syndrome, increase a person’s risk of getting colon cancer.
There is evidence diet affects your risk of developing colon cancer. There may be a link between colon cancer and a diet high in fat, low in fiber, and containing a lot of red meat. However, some studies show that the risk of colon cancer does not reduce if one incorporates more fiber into their diet, so the link is not yet clear.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer may not present themselves immediately, but if they do, they typically include:
- Diarrhea, constipation, or changes in the stool that last for more than a few days
- Feeling like you need to have a bowel movement, but not feeling relieved after having one
- Bright red blood from rectal bleeding
- Bloody stool, which can darken the stool
- Cramping or pain in the belly
- Weakness and fatigue
- Unintentional weight loss
Bleeding in the digestive tract can occur due to colorectal cancers. Stool usually looks normal, but it can sometimes be apparent in the stool or make it appear darker. Steady bleeding over time can lead to anemia, or low red blood cell levels. The first sign of colorectal cancer is often a low blood cell count on a blood test.
Exams & Tests
Screening tests can detect colon cancer before patients experience symptoms. At this stage, colorectal cancer is the easiest to treat and cure.
During a screening test, doctors do a physical exam and feel the abdomen for abnormal lumps. Doctors may also detect rectal cancer by performing a rectal exam, but it will not detect not colon cancer.
To find blood in the stool, your doctor may perform a fecal occult blood test (FOBT). Because bloody stool is a sign of colon cancer, a sigmoidoscopy or a colonoscopy will determine the reason for the blood in the stool.
A full colonoscopy is the only exam that allows doctors to see the entire colon and is the best test for finding colon cancer.
Possible blood tests for those with colorectal cancer include:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Liver function tests
If a colorectal cancer diagnosis occurs, doctors will do more tests to determine if the cancer is spreading and stage the cancer. MRI, CT, and PET scans of the pelvic area, abdomen, or chest can also stage the cancer.
Stages of colon cancer:
- 0: Cancer in the innermost intestinal layer
- I: Cancer in the inner layers of the colon
- II: Cancer spread beyond the colon’s muscle wall
- III: Cancer spread to lymph nodes
- IV: Cancer spread to organs outside of colon
Blood tests are used to find tumor markers like carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and can help the doctor follow a patient during and after treatment.
Treatment Of Malignant Large Bowel Tumor
Early diagnosis can ensure full recovery from colorectal cancer. With early detection, a doctor can perform a colonoscopy to remove polyps or cancerous cells from the colon.
Surgery may be required to remove some of the colon, and sometimes all of it, in advanced cases. Immunotherapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and radiation therapy are other treatment options. Based on the unique patient’s diagnosis and specific needs, a team of colorectal cancer experts will provide information and treatment recommendations.
- Surgery is the most common treatment and can involve removing the affected section of the colon, tumors, and lymph nodes that are nearby.
- Radiation therapy may be given to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors before or after surgery.
- Chemotherapy may be given to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors before or after surgery, especially if the cancer has spread beyond the intestines and colon.
- Immunotherapy can be an option for patients with cancer with specific genomic features.
- Targeted therapy targets specific proteins found on cancer cells with bio-engineered drugs. It is possible to use this type of therapy alone or with other treatments.