End-stage colon cancer
Colon cancer is nowadays one of the most common cancers in adults.colorectal cancer". The technical term already includes the two localizations of the cancer in the colon or the rectum. As a rule, colon cancer can be treated well with surgery and, if necessary, chemotherapy, and in many cases it can be cured.
However, the most important influence on the prognosis and life expectancy of the person affected are early detection and the stage of the disease. This provides an indicator of how big the cancer has grown and how widely it has already spread to the rest of the body apart from the intestines. These cancer cell settlements, also known as metastases, are the biggest factor in life expectancy. The end stage of colon cancer is defined as the fact that such metastases are already present in other areas and organs of the body. Even in the final stage, stage 4 of colon cancer, therapies with the aim of a cure can still be sought, but the prognosis of the disease drops sharply due to the presence of the metastases.
Symptoms of the terminal stage
In many cases, colon cancer does not cause any symptoms up to the advanced stage of the disease.
This represents a risk factor, as early therapy and high chances of recovery are often denied. Potential symptoms can come from the original tumor in the intestine or from its settlements in certain organs. Stool irregularities, constipation, blood in the stool, pain during bowel movements and diffuse abdominal pain can often be found. Huge tumors can even cause an intestinal obstruction, a dangerous complication that is accompanied by severe cramping abdominal pain.
Apart from the intestinal tumor, in rare cases small deposits in the liver can lead to upper abdominal pain or yellowing of the skin. In very advanced cases, restrictions in lung function, bone pain and the so-called “B symptoms” are typical. The latter includes symptoms such as fatigue, fever, weight loss, and night sweats as general physical reactions to colon cancer.
Read more on this topic at: Colon cancer symptoms
So the course of colon cancer is in the terminal stages
Colon cancer often develops slowly and takes years. Slowly growing precursors that do not always develop into cancer can develop many years beforehand.
The first abnormalities can be polyps in the intestinal wall, which can be detected, removed and examined at an early stage, for example as part of a colonoscopy. Cells can mutate from these small growths and develop into a malignant carcinoma in the long term. This can grow slowly and grow from the intestinal mucosa into the other intestinal wall layers.
Symptoms often appear late, when the cancer is so large that digestion and the passage of food inside the intestine are already blocked. As cells grow in the outer layers of the intestinal wall, the first cells can enter the lymphatic and blood circulation. At this stage, the therapy is already very difficult, as invisible, small settlements can develop anywhere in the body. According to the definition, the final stage is only reached by the diagnosis of visible settlements in organs far from the intestine. If left untreated, cancer cells can attack all organs. The exact course cannot be predicted, but the first metastases often form in colon cancer, especially in the liver and lungs.
Read more on this topic at:
- The course of colon cancer
- Metastases in colon cancer
This can be done to relieve symptoms
If end-stage colon cancer is diagnosed, it must first be decided on the basis of the individual disease situation whether therapy with a prospect of a cure or palliative therapy should be carried out.
The latter aims to relieve symptoms when a cure is no longer realistic. Chemotherapy can also be used for palliative therapy. It shrinks tumors and can relieve symptoms and pain, as well as extend survival time. There are also numerous pain medication available to relieve pain, from light medication from the NSAID group to strong opioids. The active ingredient “Fentanyl” is a prominent example of the latter. The use of other relieving symptomatic drugs must be adapted to the current symptoms. In addition to drug therapy, other procedures and psychological support should also be used at an advanced stage.
Read more on this topic at:
- Colon cancer therapy
- Chemotherapy for colon cancer
- Radiation therapy for colon cancer
So is life expectancy
The life expectancy of cancer is given as the number of survivors 5 years after the diagnosis.
In stage 4, the so-called final stage, this is around 5%. All colon cancers that were diagnosed at this stage are integrated here. In the individual case it turns out that life expectancy can be very different. Even in stage 4, a cure for colon cancer can sometimes be sought or the progression of the cancer can be greatly delayed by chemotherapy.
Read more on this topic at: Life expectancy in colon cancer
Those are the complications
Complications from colon cancer are rare. The changed and steadily growing tissue can, however, impair organ functions both in the intestine and in other organs.
The most important complication of the bowel is bowel obstruction, which can occur as a result of large growth inside the bowel. Spreading to neighboring organs can sometimes cause unusual and dangerous symptoms. This can include pain in the bladder or uterus, or pressing important blood vessels in the abdominal organs. Metastases to the liver can also lead to abdominal pain and jaundice with yellowing of the skin. Many other organ-related complications are conceivable in the late stages. Various complications can arise depending on whether metastases occur in organs such as the lungs, bones or the brain.
- Intestinal obstruction- these are the signs
- Treatment of a bowel obstruction
The intestinal obstruction is a relatively common complication in the context of intestinal cancer. Overgrowth inside the intestine can massively disrupt digestion due to blockages in the stool.
The result is cramp-like abdominal pain and considerable defensive tension in the entire abdominal muscles, coupled with vomiting, constipation, or flatulence. If the intestinal obstruction persists, the affected parts of the intestine can die and cause dangerous inflammation. If drug treatment is insufficient, the intestinal obstruction must be operated on as an emergency.
Read more on this topic at: OP of an intestinal obstruction
Is end-stage healing theoretically possible?
The chances of a cure for colon cancer in all stages are comparatively good.
With early treatment, there are good therapeutic options and high chances of recovery. Even in the so-called final stage, when there are already metastases in other organs, the colon cancer can still be cured. The prerequisite for this is that there are only cancerous ulcers in the intestine and liver and that these can be easily removed surgically. A cure can only be achieved if all visible parts of the cancer can be removed in one operation. Subsequent chemotherapy is said to help eliminate any unnoticed deposits and remaining cancer cells in the body. In the case of inoperable liver metastases or settlements in other organs such as the lungs or the bones, a cure can no longer be assumed.
Read more on this topic at: Is Colon Cancer Curable?
Artificial nutrition may be necessary in the course of colon cancer or due to certain treatments.
Important nutrients are fed directly into the bloodstream via the vein, completely bypassing and relieving the intestines. For example, after major intestinal operations, artificial nutrition is temporarily necessary until the surgical wounds have healed sufficiently. The disease can also lead to rapid weight loss and loss of appetite, which are temporarily treated with artificial nutrition in order to provide the body with the necessary energy.
Read more on this topic at: Diet in cancer