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How to Cope With Stage 3 Colon Cancer

Updated on August 12, 2013
Dr. Haddox profile image

Degrees: 1) Oakland U., 2) Michigan State U (College of Human Medicine), 3) George Washington U. (Medicine), Vanderbilt U. (Divinity School)


Cancer in the Large Intestine

Eating carefully can help one defend one's self against any type of cancer, including colon cancer.

There are a good number of sites on the internet that instruct's those who are interested in avoiding cancers of all types. In addition to eating correctly, try to avoid severely stressful life experiences, as best that you can. Of course, not all stress is avoidable, and that's to be expected. Sleep is also critical. We need to give our body, and the cells, tissues and organs that make up our organ systems, a chance to rest and repair the damage that is encountered during a day of life.

Colon cancer originate in the large intestine. These cancers are associated with the presence of polyps, or small clusters of cells, or tissue, that evolve into cancerous tissue, given some time. It is a sad thing that these tumors are often found after they have had the time to grow, causing signs and symptoms such as "bowel obstruction," especially on the right side of the body, in the "ascending colon." We know that as materials move through the human intestines the flow is from the right side of the system to the left side of the system. I am keeping my language as simple as I can so that what I am trying to explain can be understood by most people. As the materials in the intestine move through the GI-system (GI for gastro-intestinal) the materials become more solid (changing from a liquid state (as in the case of the state in the ascending colon), to a solid state (as in the state of the materials in the descending colon and the sigmoid colon, on the left side of the GI-system). The materials in the colon become solid because water is being absorbed from the inside of the GI-system as the foods (material inside the colon) are acted upon, and this process, of course is called digestion. Digestion is a very complicated process in the environment of the colon, and is far beyond the scope of this discourse to explain in detail. However, the process that we are going through, just reading this short discourse, and contemplating the stresses that cells of the GI-system must endure, gives us some idea of how this "hostile" environment, for lack of better words, lends itself to the creation of an ideal situation for the manifestation of the development of tumors, or in other words, colon cancers.

One can easily understand that on the right side of the system, in the ascending colon, where food stuffs are liquid, a tumor can grow to a large size, and maybe even obstruct the system, before it is discovered, because in the liquid state food stuffs can move around a solid mass (that is a tumor).

But considering the left side of the system, or in the descending colon and sigmoid colon, where the food stuffs (actually waste material, or fecal material that are in the "solid state") are solid, a solid tumor, or cancerous mass of tissue, readily obstructs the system.

Now to get to the issue at hand: how to cope with stage 3 colorectal cancer.

The best way to talk about this is to look at the stages that precede stage 3 and understand the processes as we go.

Stage 0: are cancers that are know as "carcinoma in situ," and in this situation the disease process remains within the lining of the colon or rectum. In this situation the removal of the cancer, either by polypectomy (using a colonoscopic device, or by surgery is the mass is too large), is enough to solve the problem.

Stage 1: are situations where colorectal cancers have grown and "invaded" or gone through several layers of the intestine, but have not "eaten" their way through, that is, or spread beyond the muscular layer of the colon or rectum. Most of the time, with stage one colon cancer a colon resection (that is, surgery), is all that is required for a cure.

Stage 2: A stage 2 colorectal cancer has traveled beyond the muscular layers of the large intestine (stage 2A) and has reached into adjacent tissue (stage 2B). In this case, the cancer has not reached the lymph nodes, however. Most of the time a surgical resection is all that is need to cure a stage 2 cancer. Noteworthy, some cancer doctors tend to be more aggressive with this stage of cancer, because they can come back, or recur. Therefore, some doctors will treat people with chemotherapy following surgery. Sometimes doctors will even do the surgical procedure, that is, do a resection, and follow this up with chemotherapy and radiation to prevent the chances of a recur.

Stage 3: (this is the stage that this discourse is suppose to address). As to be expected, stage 3 is considered an advanced stage of cancer because in this case the problem has gone or spread to the lymph nodes, however, not beyond the lymph nodes to other tissues or organs of the body. In the case of colon cancer, surgery is done first, then chemotherapy is done. Depending on the surgeon done the treatments, chemotherapy and radiation may be done first, then surgery in the case of stage 3 rectal cancer.

Stage 4: There is a stage 4. I don't like writing about it, because I believe that one's personal physician and the team of cancer doctors should be the ones to "get with a patient," face-to-face, to counsel and be close to the patient who is suffering.

However, I will say that in the case of stage 4 colorectal cancer, the disease has spread (that is, metastasized) to distant organs and vital tissues such as the liver, lungs, or ovaries. A "cure" may be difficult to achieve at this point, but physicians always strive to "relieve human suffering." Surgery may not cure the cancer in the case of stage 4, but it can be helpful in relieving or preventing complications. In the case of stage 4, where the tumors cannot be surgically removed, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and in most instances, both treatments, are used to relieve pain, delay complications and to decrease suffering.

No discourse can take the place of a great working relationship with one's physicians. It is my hope that this little write-up is somewhat useful. If this be the case, then my goal has been met.

Regards, Peace, and Blessings,

Dr. Haddox


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