What is the Prognosis of Colon Cancer?

by Sophia McMullen
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What is the Prognosis of Colon Cancer

What is the Prognosis of Colon Cancer? The most important prognostic indicator is the pathological stage at presentation. According to SEER study data, five-year overall survival rates for colon cancer range from 74% for stage I to 57% for stage IIA. Those with stage IIC disease have a survival rate of 30% to 37% while those with stage IIIC cancer have a survival rate of 28% to 5%.

Treatment options

The treatment options for colon cancer are many, but chemotherapy and surgery are not always the only viable options. In some cases, surgery is necessary to remove a portion of the colon and relieve any blockage. Other treatment options may include chemotherapy and immunotherapy, which use specific vaccines to combat cancer cells. Some people also have a gene mutation that makes them susceptible to immunotherapy. Consult your doctor to discuss your options. Some complementary therapies are effective for relieving the side effects of chemotherapy and diet.

Surgery is typically the first option for treatment in colon cancer. During this procedure, the tumor and nearby lymph nodes are removed. After the surgery, your doctor may perform adjuvant chemotherapy. The chemotherapy regimen most commonly used is FOLFOX (5-FU, leucovorin, and oxaliplatin). Sometimes, chemotherapy is combined with surgery to shrink the tumor. However, this treatment comes with significant risks and side effects.

Risk factors

If you have a family history of colon cancer, you may be more susceptible to developing the disease than others. The risk for colon cancer increases two-fold if a first-degree relative has the disease. If you have two or more first-degree relatives with the disease, the risk increases by four to six times. You also are more likely to develop colon cancer if you are younger than fifty. Abdominal radiation may increase your risk for colon cancer.

People with inflammatory bowel disease are at increased risk for colon cancer. Those with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are especially susceptible. Those with Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis are also at higher risk. Eating more fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and avoiding processed meat, may also reduce your risk. Smoking and drinking alcohol have also been linked to colon cancer risk. While moderate alcohol consumption may be a sign of colon cancer, women should limit their intake to one or two drinks per day.

Screenings

Although colon cancer screenings were once only for older people, new national guidelines recommend that everyone above 50 get checked regularly for colorectal cancer. The risk of developing the disease grows significantly with age, and the number of people who need screenings increases drastically after age 50. More than half of colon cancer cases occur in people over 50. Although colon cancer screenings are still very expensive, they are worth the cost in many ways. As with any disease, you may not know the signs of colon cancer until it’s too late.

The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals aged 50 and over have screenings every two years. Women who exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet may have less risk. People who smoke or consume high-fat meat should also get screened. Those who have a family history of colorectal cancer may also have an increased risk of developing the disease. While screenings are essential, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends a yearly screening for people with known risk factors. Depending on your risk factors, your doctor may recommend different screenings.

Chemotherapy

While surgery is often the first course of treatment for colon cancer, it is not the only way to treat it. Chemotherapy is an alternative, particularly when surgery has not been an option. This type of treatment uses the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may also be the best option if a tumor has spread to other organs. The choice is ultimately up to the medical oncologist.

Six phase 3 trials were conducted in which 12,834 patients were enrolled, of whom 13,025 met the definition of a “modified intention-to-treat” analysis. Patients’ demographics and disease characteristics were generally similar, although the number of patients with tumor stage T4 varied from 12.1% in TOSCA to 29.5% in SCOT. Although the results of these trials are encouraging, the quality of the treatments is still largely unknown.

Lymph node biopsy

The importance of lymph node biopsy for colon cancer resection is under discussion. The more lymph nodes examined, the better the staging and the ability to target adjuvant chemotherapy. The number of lymph nodes examined depends on the stage of the colon cancer, the patient’s age, the location of the tumor, and the pathology technique used. The minimum number of lymph nodes examined by colectomy is twelve, which is the current consensus standard for hospital-based performance.

Early T-stage colorectal cancers are more likely to be metastasized to lymph nodes, so SLNB may be informative. Endoscopic resection can achieve adequate local excision, and segmental resection may not be necessary. However, patients with co-morbidities may not benefit from segmental resection. This procedure can be done laparoscopically or via other minimally invasive techniques.

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