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Types of

Colon Cancer

Cancers described as colorectal may start in the colon or the rectum. These two components of our digestive system form the large intestine, which is part of the gastrointestinal tract. The colon is the longest portion of the large intestine, and runs from the small intestine at one end to the rectum, a chamber that in turn connects with the anus. Partially digested food travels through the large intestine. Along the way, water and salts are absorbed and stools are formed. Those stools then pass through the rectum and are eliminated via the anus during a bowel movement. Colon cancers are malignant growths that often interfere with these normal functions, frequently causing constipation and pain, among other symptoms. Further, they may metastasize, or spread, to other portions of the gastrointestinal tract or even other parts of the body. The cancer specialists at Regional Cancer Care Associates offer diagnosis and treatment for all types of colon cancer in New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area.

Classifying the Types of Colon Cancer

Excluding skin cancer, colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Regular screenings by medical professionals are an effective way to reduce the risks of developing colon cancer, in part through the identification and removal of precancerous growths called polyps. These growths look roughly like very tiny grapes, either in a bunch or on an individual stalk. Early detection and treatment can save lives.
Woman holding dark Blue Ribbon for supporting colon cancer awareness

There are several different types of colon cancer, including:

Adenocarcinoma

The most common type of colon cancer, adenocarcinoma forms in cells that create mucus. This lubricating mucus helps move stool along the large intestine, all the way through the rectum and anus. When cells in the lining of the colon mutate and grow uncontrollably, polyps may form.

There are different types of polyps, or growths, that form on the inner lining of the colon. Adenomatous polyps, or adenomas, may become cancerous, or malignant. Polyps are removed during colonoscopies and biopsies and then examined for colon cancer.

Carcinoid tumors

These tumors develop in neuroendocrine cells that are scattered throughout the intestines. The cells help regulate the production of hormones, assisting in the release of gastric juices and influencing the speed with which food travels through the digestive system.

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors

This is an uncommon type of colon cancer that forms in the interstitial cells of Cajal, which set the pace of muscle contractions in the colon. These contractions move food and gastric liquids through the system.

Sarcomas

These soft tissue cancers form in connective tissue, blood vessels, and muscle layers of the intestine. They are rarely found in colon cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer can be difficult to detect. Digestive system changes can be one indication but are not always present. Also, many symptoms of colon cancer – such as constipation or diarrhea – often arise from other, less-serious causes. The most effective deterrent for colon cancer is to follow screening guidelines and the advice of doctors. Contact your primary care provider or gastroenterologist as soon as possible if these signs or symptoms are present:
  • Bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stool
  • Weakness or fatigue that is unusual
  • Diarrhea, constipation, narrow stools, or other changes in bowel habits, especially if the changes last longer than a few weeks
  • Abdominal pains, cramps, gas, and bloating
  • Frequently feeling the urge to have a bowel movement, or a sensation that not all stool has been evacuated following a bowel movement
  • Anemia, or deficiency in iron levels
  • Unintentional weight loss

Risk Factors for Colon Cancer

Several risk factors for colon cancer have been identified. They include:
  • Age: Most colon cancer is found in people over the age of 50, but younger people should not ignore symptoms.
  • Ethnicity: Early screening is recommended for African Americans, Ashkenazi Jews, and members of some other racial or ethnic groups. Ask your doctor whether this applies to you.
  • Personal and family history: Did a colonoscopy reveal polyps? Do you have a close relative with colon cancer? These are important questions to go over with your doctor.
  • Diet: Following a healthy diet reduces risk. This includes modest or no consumption of alcohol, red meats, and processed meats, and high intake of fiber.
  • Exercise: The risk of colon cancer may increase with obesity and lack of exercise.

Colon Cancer Treatment Options

The experienced, board-certified oncologists and other members of the medical team at Regional Cancer Care Associates create personalized cancer treatment plans. They will evaluate the type of colon cancer, its stage of growth, and the overall health of the patient. In addition, the size and location of the cancer are key factors in helping the team at Regional Cancer Care Associates select the most effective therapy for each patient. Colon cancer therapies are used singly and in combination, and may include:

Schedule a Consultation for Colon Cancer Care in CT, MD, & NJ

The experienced team at Regional Cancer Care Associates can help you understand the different types of colon cancer and various treatment options. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our 25 locations in New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area.

Receive the Highest Standard of Care

From the moment you have you first appointment at one of RCCA’s 25+ locations, you’ll experience quality care that only our highly trained oncologists can provide. We’ll take the time to help you understand your diagnosis and your options, so you and your doctor can devise the best treatment plan for your unique situation. You’ll also have access to clinical trials, putting you at the forefront of innovations in the field of colon cancer care.

To learn more about colon cancer treatment at RCCA or to schedule an appointment, reach out to us at 844-346-7222.

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