The colon, or large intestine, connects the small intestine to the anus. It is responsible for the absorption of water and other nutrients, and the removal of waste. Some well agreed upon risk factors of colon cancer include age, family history of colon cancer, personal medical history of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease, smoking, alcohol, obesity, poor nutrition (high fat, low fibre) and lack of exercise.
What Are The Symptoms of Colon Cancer?
Talk to your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms: any changes in bowel habits (increased diarrhea or constipation), presence of blood or mucus, narrowing of stools, always feeling the need to have a bowel movement, abdominal pain or fullness, feeling a lump in the abdomen, and any changes in digestion, such as nausea or loss of appetite.
What Happens After a Colon Cancer Diagnosis?
Like other cancers, what your oncology team decides to do is based on the size and location of the tumour. Surgery is the primary treatment of choice, as the goal is to remove the entire tumour. The surgery may also include the removal of lymph nodes, a portion of the colon, and any cancerous tissue that has spread to nearby organs. Chemotherapy is usually recommended as well.
Complementary Naturopathic Care of Colon Cancer
As part of the digestive system, the colon receives a large amount of blood to help with digestion, and it is in direct contact with potentially harmful substances on a daily basis. The goals of naturopathic complementary care of colon cancer include optimizing nutrition, improving the immune system, treating addictive behaviour if applicable, achieving a healthy body mass index (BMI), and healing the gut. Some examples are as follows:
- Addictions – addictions to alcohol, smoking and food greatly increase the chances of developing colon cancer, and greatly affects its progression as well. Cutting these things out can be hard, but with supplementation, such as B vitamins for alcoholism, herbs, such as lobelia for smoking, and acupuncture, quitting can be easier.
- Green tea – green tea is a powerful antioxidant, and there are many studies attesting to its preventative actions. Drinking it allows its anti-cancer actions to come into direct contact with the intestinal lining.
- Probiotics – probiotics are directly involved in regulating the immune system, and so having these beneficial bacteria modulating the local immune system in the gut can be a wonderful supportive care.