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Bowel cancer: signs and symptoms, stages, treatment

Intestinal cancer is equally common in both men and women - its feature is the scant clinical symptoms in the early stages of the disease. It is for this reason that a severe diagnosis is determined only at stage 3-4, when the possibilities of medicine are very limited. Consider the first signs of intestinal cancer, the manifestations of the stages and prognostic data.


Bowel cancer - what is it?

Bowel cancer photo

Bowel cancer is a group of malignant neoplasms that appear in various parts of the large and small intestines and cause severe disruption of the functioning of the digestive tract and other systems. Depending on the location of the tumor emit:

  1. Cancer of the small intestine. It is quite rare, in about 1-1.5% of cases of all cancers of the digestive tract. People of elderly and senile age are ill mainly; men are more likely to be affected by the disease than women. Of all parts of the small intestine, tumors prefer to be located in the duodenum, less often in the jejunum and ileum.
  2. Colon cancer. The predominant number of tumors in this area is located in the sigmoid and rectum. Among people who prefer meat, pathology is observed more often than among vegetarians.

The contributing factors for the development of oncology are:

  • Pretumor diseases of the digestive system: adenomas, polyps, ulcerative colitis, ulcers, Crohn's disease and erosion.
  • Features of the diet: the predominance of spicy, fried, spicy and meat dishes. Limited intake of plant foods.
  • Genetic predisposition (familial adenomatous polyposis).
  • Chronic stool disorders (constipation).
  • Age.
  • Alcohol abuse.
  • Chemical carcinogens in food.

Stages of intestinal cancer, photo

stage cancer bowel photo

photos of cancer by stages

All malignant tumors of this area are divided into a number of stages, depending on the prevalence of the process and the presence of metastases.

There are 4 stages:

  • 1st stage. The tumor affects the mucous membrane and submucosa. There are no metastases.
  • 2nd stage. It is divided into 2 substages:
    2a - the tumor does not invade the muscle wall, there is no metastasis, its prevalence is within half of the intestine;
    2b - grows into the intestinal wall, but does not go beyond it, there is no metastasis.
  • 3rd stage. It has 2 substages:
    3a - grows into the muscle wall and captures the semicircle of the intestine, nearby lymph nodes are not affected;
    3b - there are many metastases in nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4 - a tumor of large size, grows into the surrounding tissue, there are many regional and distant metastases.

In the international system, intestinal cancer is classified according to the TNM system, where T is the size of the primary tumor, N is regional metastases, and M is distant metastases.

According to this classification, T1 - the tumor grows only to the submucosa, and T4 - the serous and muscular membrane grows and passes to other organs and tissues; N1 - regional metastases in 1-3 lymph nodes, and N2 - in 4 or more; M0 - no distant metastases, M2 - is.

Important! Evaluate the stage of cancer on the basis of data obtained as a result of examinations before, after and during surgery.

Determining the type, form and stage of cancer helps the doctor to choose the tactics of treatment.

Signs and symptoms of intestinal cancer in the early stages

Signs and symptoms of intestinal cancer in the early stages

The first symptoms of intestinal cancer develop very slowly. The clinical picture is largely dependent on the location of the tumor. Depending on the area of ​​the lesion, the symptoms of intestinal cancer in the early stages can be:

1. If the small intestine is affected:

  • nausea, urge to vomit;
  • abdominal pain;
  • bloating and flatulence;
  • weight loss;
  • appetite disorders;
  • weakness and fatigue.

2. If a large intestine is affected:

  • diarrhea, constipation;
  • bloating;
  • epigastric pain;
  • decreased appetite;
  • weight remains normal or grows;
  • weakness, subfebrile, symptoms of intoxication.

The main problem of cancer tumors is the absence of specific symptoms in the early stages, so patients go to the doctor for stage 3-4, when treatment options are already limited.

Symptoms of bowel cancer

Symptoms of bowel cancer

development of symptoms by cancer stages 1-3

With the progression of the tumor develop severe manifestations of bowel cancer, which force the patient to seek help:

1. Oncology of the small intestine:

  • vomiting, weight loss;
  • intense abdominal pain;
  • with gigantic tumor sizes, intestinal obstruction develops, which is characterized by repeated vomiting, bloating, dehydration;
  • at intestinal torsions the necrosis and peritonitis develops;
  • if metastases penetrate the liver, jaundice may develop;
  • bleeding;
  • fluid in the abdominal cavity, etc.

Symptoms of colon cancer:

  • problems with stools: constipation, diarrhea;
  • digestive disorders: bloating, rumbling, flatulence;
  • blood in the feces is characteristic of rectal cancer;
  • severe pain in the abdomen;
  • weakness, weight loss;
  • tenesmus - false urges to the act of defecation;
  • with the development of complications (inflammation, fistula, abscess), other symptoms join.

Complications of cancer may be abscesses and cellulitis of the intestine with the development of peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum). In addition, pathological fistulas are often formed (between the intestines and the bladder or vagina), which significantly complicate the life of the patient.

Intestinal cancer with metastases

This area is well and abundantly supplied with blood, because metastases can quickly be in various organs and tissues. Most often, this cancer metastasizes to the liver through the portal vein system, but its cells may end up in the lungs, bones and even the brain.

Metastases reduce the percentage of five-year patient survival, and can kill a person faster than the primary tumor itself. After identifying distant metastases, the prognosis turns out to be very poor and the patient is promised from six months to a year of survival.

How many live with intestinal cancer?

how much is left to live with intestinal cancer in stage 4 There is no definite answer to the patient’s question of how long he has to live with intestinal cancer in stage 4. Five-year survival in such patients ranges from 5-6%. For comparison, the prognosis for the detection and treatment of intestinal cancer at stage 1-2 is 70%.

It all depends on the possibilities of medical treatment, the characteristics of the tumor and, to some extent, on the confluence of circumstances.

How many patients with metastases live? In the presence of distant metastases, the survival period is reduced to a year. And in the absence of metastases, most patients live over 3 years.

Important! In the absence of metastases, more than half of the patients are cured of the disease.

Bowel cancer treatment

Treatment is selected based on the stage and extent of the process. Preference is given to the surgical method in combination with radiation therapy. There are many options for surgery, depending on the location of the tumor. Additionally, radiation therapy is performed taking into account the histological type of the tumor.

In cancer 4 stages, palliative operations are performed (they facilitate the patient's condition): fistulas or bypass anastomoses are imposed during the development of intestinal obstruction. The patient at the 4th stage receives medications designed to alleviate his condition.

Chemotherapy is used on stage 4 cancer or when the tumor is sensitive to this method.

Preventive measures consist in timely treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases. In addition, patients at risk are recommended to adhere to proper nutrition, reduce the number of meat dishes and prevent the development of constipation.

Patients with precancerous diseases are subject to follow-up and should monitor their condition annually.

Bowel cancer is a severe pathology, and if a patient is worried about incomprehensible symptoms, you should promptly consult a doctor and deal with your health.


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