Understanding A Colon Cancer Diagnosis
- Gene Park, 41, a well-known gaming reporter at The Washington Post celebrated his final chemotherapy treatment with a celebratory bell ring.
- Park announced his colon cancer diagnosis in July.
- The best and most complete way of screening is a colonoscopy every 10 years; and should begin at age 45.
- The stage will depend on the depth of the tumor in the colon, if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or if the cancer has metastasized to other organs, such as the liver or lungs.
“It’s the end of my initial run and hoping we don’t have to do this again. i decided to revel in the small victory. after all, every day I breathe is a reason to celebrate and make some noise,” said Park in a tweet with a video of him attached ringing the bell.Read More
“If it all goes as planned I’ll be scheduling surgery soon. my mantra is “cancer free for 2023.”,” said Park.
Colon Cancer Screening
Colon cancers begins as a polyp, or small growth, in the colon that causes no symptoms. Although polyps can’t be felt, they can be picked up by screening tests before they cause a problem. It takes up to 10 years for a colon polyp to become a full-blown cancer, which gives doctors time to remove the polyp before it causes a problem.
Dr. Heather Yeo is a medical advisor to SurvivorNet and board-certified in general surgery, colon and rectal surgery, and complex general surgical oncology. She explains the best and most complete way of screening is a colonoscopy every 10 years.
“In general, you should get your first colonoscopy at age 45 but the guidelines differ depending on your risk category. If you have a close relative who had colon cancer, a rule of thumb is to get screened 10 years prior to their age of diagnosis to make sure any growths or cancers are caught early,” said Dr. Yeo.
She adds, if you have several family members who had colon cancer, or family members who got it at a young age (less than 50 years old), it may be necessary to undergo genetic screening. And if you have a lot of polyps on your colonoscopy or if you yourself have had colon cancer previously, you will need a colonoscopy every 3 to 5 years.
Staging Colon Cancer
When staging colon cancer you have to take into account the depth of the tumor in the colon, if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or if the cancer has metastasized to other organs, such as the liver or lungs.
“A preliminary staging workup is done after diagnosis with imaging studies, such as a CT scan, which can show if the cancer has spread to other organs. For patients who have had surgery to remove their cancer, the final stage is determined based on the final pathology report. After the colon is removed, a pathologist looks at the colon under a microscope. It can take up to one week to receive the final pathology report, which can be a very stressful time for patients,” said Dr. Yeo.
Stage one and stage two colon cancer means the tumor has not grown outside of the colon. The stage one cancers mean the tumor has only penetrated the superficial layers of the colon, whereas stage two cancers involve the deeper layers of the colon wall, said Dr. Yeo.
Stage three cancers are those in which the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes around the colon. Stage four colon cancers are those that have spread to other organs, such as the liver, lungs or peritoneal cavity.
What To Expect After Colon Surgery
A colon resection surgery is scary, but we have some information to help get you through. On average a patient stays in the hospital for about 5-7 days.
The length depends on various factors including your exact operation, how much pain you are having and how well you are eating and drinking after surgery. You will then need a few weeks to recover after leaving the hospital. Most patients will feel back to normal in about one month.
Dr. Yeo says it is recommended that you get out of bed and walk the day after your surgery. You will usually be given clear liquids within one day of surgery, and given food over the next few days depending on how you are feeling. It is often recommended that you stay on a low-fiber diet (no raw fruits and vegetables) for a few weeks after surgery.
When you are discharged from the hospital, you should continue to be active and walk daily. It is recommended that you do not lift more than 5-10 pounds for about one month after surgery.