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Stage 4 Colon Cancer: What Can You Do About It?

Published by Nanni on Saturday, September 22, 2012

Photo credit by Unhindered by Talent

Colon cancer is often deadly. The reason is that it can be present and spread long before a person is aware of it. In some cases, the symptoms are not noticeable enough, and the presence of cancer can even go undetected during a routine physical examination if the physician is not looking for it. If it has spread throughout the body, affecting vital organs and systems, it is known as Stage 4 colon cancer. Although colon cancer at this stage is in its advanced stage, it is still not time to give up hope. While the survival rate for Stage 4 colon cancer is quite low, many people do reach five-year survival.

There are currently three basic forms of treatment available for Stage 4 colon cancer. The decision of which form of treatment, or a combination of treatments to use depends on a number of factors. The main factor is the extent to which the rest of the body is affected. This includes where it has spread, and to what extent it has spread. The patient's age and general health are additional factors in determining the right form of treatment.

Surgery is one form of treatment for Stage 4 colon cancer. This involves removing the affected section, and attaching the unaffected sections together. The surgical procedure known as an ostomy involves the use of a colostomy bag. An ostomy eliminates the natural use of the colon. An ostomy bag is worn for this purpose.

If surgery is not advisable, there are other options. Radiation treatment and chemotherapy treatment can be done on their own, or in addition to surgery. Radiation treatment can be used to reduce the tumor or tumors that are within the colon. It can also be used to rid the body of cancerous cells which have spread beyond the colon. In addition, radiation can be used following standard surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer recurring.

Chemotherapy involves the use of chemical drugs to kill the cancerous cells. As the chemicals are spread throughout the body, it can kill the cancerous cells which have spread beyond the colon. Although a negative aspect of chemotherapy is that it can kill healthy cells within the body as well, it still has the potential to save the life of the person who has Stage 4 colon cancer.

Currently, it is estimated that less than fifteen percent of people who have developed Stage 4 colon cancer gain a five-year survival chance. Considering how life-threatening colon cancer is, it must be taken seriously. First, you can stay alert to signs and symptoms, and see your doctor if you experience problems. Second, you can insist that your regular health care provider make checking you for colon cancer a routine part of your physical exams. While it is usually recommended that everyone over age 50 be tested annually, you may decide to begin sooner. The earlier that colon cancer is diagnosed, the more likely it will be that treatment will be successful.

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