Survivor Story: Colon Cancer Surgery
This is a story of one of my patient about her fight with colon cancer. She wanted to write and I encouraged her to put her experience in words. She did so, but decided that she wanted her name be changed. It all began in 2016.
Sonia, a 46-year-old, mom of a then 20 year old was working full time awakened with what she assumed was a stomach ache that just didn’t want to disappear. Throughout the day it seemed to get worse and by that night she could not walk. Her husband was away on a business trip and thus her daughter, who was in Delhi university returned and took her to the hospital.
Also See: Colon Cancer Surgeon in Chandigarh
Diagnosis of colon cancer
Lot of tests were done and the CAT Scan found a mass in her right colon which looked like a tumour. She remained in the hospital for seven days. As she writes, “Ten days of worry, testing, scans, surgical treatment and also a lot of bonding with the nurses”. During that time, a colonoscopy confirmed that the tumour had actually shut off her colon, a Pet scan validated that it had grown past the colon walls and also into the lymph nodes.
So she had what we call cancer of the right colon. Once a cancer is diagnosed with colonoscopy and biopsy, the PET CT assesses the entire body for any spread. After these tests, we stage the tumour by giving it a number. Thus Sonia had stage 3 of right sided cancer of the colon and required urgent colon cancer surgery as the lesion was obstructing her ascending colon. This is called a obstructing colon cancer is normal parlance.
Colon Cancer Surgery
Laparoscopic surgical treatment removed the tumour, 24 cm of colon and also 21 lymph nodes. She recovered well to go home and to be followed up in the OPD. Her case was discussed in hospital tumour board and her cancer was labelled as a Stage III Colon Cancer. Her final biopsy had shown some small vessel infiltration. She was referred to medical oncologist, who made a decision that even though the nodes weren’t impacted, it would be only a short time prior to they would certainly have been, so they decided to give her chemotherapy.
This is what Sonia says “Up until this point, I had been living with an extremely worn out sensation at all times as well as taking medication for chest allergy due to the fact that I was having a difficult time capturing my breath. However it turned out I was extremely anaemic and B-12 deficient. My haemoglobin was so low. After the surgery, I felt better as I had received blood transfusions. My pain was gone and since there was no big incision for my surgery, I started feeling good and cheerful”
Colon cancer chemotherapy
Chemotherapy treatment started a month later and consisted of 5FU, Leucovorin and Oxalliplatin. She writes “life was far from typical. I needed to take added iron tablets as well as have B-12 shots. I got on 3 types of anti-nausea drug. My hair fell from the chemo, I had consistent nose and anal bleeds but had the ability to maintain my composure as well as a will to survive.”
So all patients of stage 3 and 4 with colon cancer receive chemotherapy after colon cancer surgery. Some patients of stage 2 also receive chemotherapy after colon cancer surgery as they have some bad prognostic markers. Sonia had obstruction as well as some small vessel infiltration with tumour and thus was earmarked for chemotherapy. The chemotherapy is started about 4 weeks after the surgery and the wounds are completely healed. In the interim a port is inserted to deliver chemotherapy.
Sonia writes “I still had fatigue however, I had to will myself to try as well as live a rather regular life. Strolling was difficult as a result of the wooziness. I fell a number of times due to the enduring neuropathy in my feet. I had several issues with my power port but in the end everything worked well. Throughout this experience I utilized the expression “It’s all excellent” as my reply when asked just how I was doing.”
Also See Rectal Cancer Surgeon in Chandigarh
Colon cancer surveillance
Sonia will be followed up every 3 months for five years, with proceeded checks up to 10 years. Sonia has persuaded her friends to go for screening and all have lately been checked out by their doctors.
Colon cancer presents in many ways. Sonia had a complicated presentation as she developed intestinal obstruction because of colon cancer. Colon cancer surgery remains the mainstay of treatment. Laparoscopic surgery is the preferred method to do surgery. The surgeries include right, extended right or left hemicolectomy. Chemotherapy is given after surgery for some stage 2, stage 3 and stage 4 colon cancers. Preoperative chemotherapy may be used in stage 4 cancers before surgery is planned. Survival is very good in colon cancer and one should not give up hope. Sonia’s story should be a great motivator for all patients with colon cancer.
Symptoms for Early Detection OF COLON CANCER
Always feeling tired, lazy and no will to work
Loss of appetite or loss of weight
Black coloured stools or bleeding during defecation
Pain in the tummy or feeling of bloating