Colon cancer: symptoms, warning signs, therapy, prognosis - NetDoktor - Diseases - 2021

Colon cancer


Martina Feichter

Martina Feichter studied biology in Innsbruck with an optional subject in pharmacy and also immersed herself in the world of medicinal plants. From there it was not far to other medical topics that still captivate her today. She trained as a journalist at the Axel Springer Academy in Hamburg and has been working for since 2007 - first as an editor and since 2012 as a freelance author.

More about the expertsUnter colon cancer (colorectal carcinoma) is a malignant tumor of the colon or rectum. It usually arises from benign intestinal polyps. The only cure for colorectal cancer is surgery. Other methods such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy often support the treatment. Read here all important information on the topic: How to recognize bowel cancer? What are its causes and risk factors? How is colon cancer treated? How big are the chances of recovery?

ICD codes for this disease: ICD codes are internationally valid medical diagnosis codes. They are found e.g. in medical reports or on incapacity certificates. C17C21C19C18C26C20ArtikelübersichtDarmkrebs

  • symptoms
  • Colon cancer: rectal cancer
  • Causes and risk factors
  • Examinations and diagnosis
  • Colorectal cancer stages
  • treatment
  • Disease course and prognosis
  • colon cancer screening

Quick Overview

  • What is colon cancer? Malignant tumor in the large intestine (colon carcinoma) or rectum (rectal carcinoma). In summary, doctors in colorectal cancer speak of a colorectal carcinoma.
  • Frequency: In Germany, colon cancer is the second most common cancer in women and the third most common cancer in men. Every year, about 29,500 women and 33,500 men contract colon cancer. At diagnosis, patients are on average 73 years (men) and 75 years (women) old.
  • symptoms: Colon cancer develops slowly, and usually stays for a long time without discomfort. Possible signs in the further course are altered bowel habits (diarrhea and / or constipation), blood in the stool, unwanted weight loss, anemia, possibly abdominal pain, mild fever, tiredness, poor performance.
  • Causes and risk factors: poor diet (low fiber, high in meat and fat), physical inactivity, overweight, alcohol, nicotine, genetic factors, inflammatory bowel disease (especially ulcerative colitis), type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Treatment: Depends on several factors such as location, size and spread of the tumor. The most important therapy option is the operation. In support of further treatments can be initiated, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
  • Forecast: The early detection and treatment of colorectal cancer, the better the chances of recovery. If daughter tumors (metastases) have already formed in other body regions, the prognosis worsens.
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Colon cancer: symptoms

Colon cancer usually goes unnoticed for a long time. Complaints only occur when the tumor has reached a certain size. Then he can interfere with the passage of food leftovers. As a result, the bowel movement changes (Constipation, diarrhea). Often there is also Blood in the stool.

Like any cancer, the tumor also weakens the entire body. Therefore, non-specific complaints can also be inefficiency, unwanted weight loss and optionally light fever occur. If the tumor has already spread to other organs at an advanced stage (metastases), further complaints may occur.

Below, you can read more about what you can detect colon cancer. But beware: The symptoms mentioned are not a clear sign of colorectal cancer, but may have other causes. But you should always have them checked out by a doctor. This is especially true when relatively young people experience potential colorectal cancer symptoms. Colon cancer is extremely rare in younger people.

Colon Cancer Symptoms: Modified bowel movements

Many patients suffer alternately under constipation and diarrheabecause the tumor narrows the intestine: The stool initially builds up in front of the tumor. Then it is liquefied by bacterial decomposition and excreted as sometimes foul-smelling diarrhea. This alternation of constipation (constipation) and diarrhea (diarrhea) is also called paradoxical diarrhea designated. It is a classic warning sign for colorectal cancer.

Some patients also suffer from repeated constipation or recurrent diarrhea.

If additionally unwanted stool is excreted at the departure of winds, this may also be an indication of colon cancer. Doctors speak of this Phenomenon of the "wrong friend", It arises when the muscle tension of the anal sphincter is reduced. The reason for this can be a deep-seated colon cancer, which traverses the muscle and thus interferes with its function.

In general, any change in bowel habits that persists for more than three weeks should be clarified by a doctor for people over the age of 40 years.

Colon cancer symptoms: blood in the stool

A malignant tumor is not as stable as healthy tissue. That's why he often bleeds. In colon cancer, this blood is excreted together with the stool. Thus, in the majority of colon cancer patients blood admixtures in the stool.

These blood enemas are sometimes visible to the naked eye, The color gives an indication of the location of the tumor: If the colon cancer is located in the area of ​​the rectum, the blood in the stool appears red (fresh blood). In other cases, the stool is stained pitch-black by older (dark) blood. This so-called tarry stool indicates a bleeding in the upper digestive tract (stomach, duodenum). However, it can not be ruled out that Teerstuhl also occurs in a source of bleeding in the colon.

However, many colon cancer patients excrete so little blood that it does not stand out in the stool. These "Invisible" blood admixtures are also called occult blood designated. It can be detected with certain tests (eg Hämoccult test).

Despite its frequency, blood is in the stool no specific colorectal cancer signs, There may be other causes behind it. Most blood residues on the chair or toilet paper are due to hemorrhoids. Typically, the blood is then more likely to be bright red and stored in the stool. The blood in colorectal cancer, however, is usually mixed with the stool due to the bowel movements.

In addition to hemorrhoids, bleeding sources in the esophagus, stomach or duodenum are also possible causes of blood in the stool (for example, a gastric ulcer).

General colon cancer symptoms

Colorectal cancer can also cause the general condition of a person to deteriorate. For example, those affected feel unusual tired and weak and are not as powerful as usual, Also fever can be a sign of colon cancer.

Especially in advanced disease can anemia (Anemia) occur. It arises because the malignant intestinal tumor often bleeds. Iron is also lost with the blood. However, as iron is necessary for the formation of the red blood pigment (hemoglobin), it causes anemia due to iron deficiency (iron deficiency anemia). It manifests itself with symptoms such as paleness, poor performance, tiredness and, in severe cases, respiratory distress.

Another colorectal cancer indication is in advanced stages unwanted weight loss, Doctors here speak of a tumor cachexia: Due to the cancer, the body builds up a lot of fat and muscle mass. Thus, the patients are increasingly emaciated and emaciated.

Other colorectal cancer signs

If the colon cancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastasis), more discomfort may occur. He often forms secondary tumors in the liver (liver metastases). This can, for example, cause pain in the right upper abdomen, jaundice or increased liver function in the blood. Also lung metastases are not uncommon in colon cancer. You may be affected by wheezing or difficulty breathing.

But colon cancer can also continue to grow in the intestine. He may damage the intestinal wall or surrounding tissue. For example, a large tumor can narrow the intestine so that food remains can not pass through it. This is how you get started bowel obstruction (Ileus) - a serious complication of colon cancer.

This is how the colon is built. Most often, colorectal cancer develops in the colon, depriving the porridge of water and salts on the way to the anus.

Pain can also occur in colorectal cancer, for example spasmodic abdominal pain. Some patients also have pain during bowel movements.

In some cases, patients report of strong bowel sounds and flatulence, Both can of course also occur in healthy people. However, when these symptoms accumulate, sometimes they are signs of colorectal cancer.

With further growth, the tumor can break through the intestinal wall and one Peritonitis (peritonitis) cause. If the cancer cells in the abdominal cavity spread on the peritoneum, doctors speak of one peritoneal.