When a cancerous growth originates in the colon and then spreads to the rectum, it leads to colorectal cancer. It is the second most common form of cancer in the western world. The risk of colorectal cancer is higher after the age of fifty years. Experts have suggested that smoking, fat-rich diet, Crohn’s disease and colitis are some of the risk factors for this disease.
The symptoms of colorectal cancer include bowel disorder (diarrhea or constipation), abdominal heaviness, bloody stool, bloating, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, weight loss and tiredness. Diagnostic test like colonoscopy helps diagnose the severity of such a condition. For treatment of colorectal cancer, surgery (if detected in early stage), chemotherapy, radiation therapy and sometimes combination therapy are mostly recommended. Read about cancer — causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
The colon is a 5 feet long twisted tube that helps in the absorption of water and various nutrients from the food you eat, whereas the end portion (about 6 inches) of the digestive tract that serves as a passage for excretion of stool is called the rectum. Read about 8 cancer-causers in your daily life you should be aware of.
Colorectal cancer (also known as bowel cancer) is the 6th common cause of cancer deaths in India. It develops due to overgrowth of cells lining the colon and the rectum. These tumours can enlarge with time and then invade the colon completely. Did you know faulty genes can cause bowel cancer?
In most cases of colorectal cancer, the actual cause is not found. But certain risk factors can increase the chances of colon cancer like -
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- Inflammatory bowel disease or Chron’s disease
- Family history of cancer
Sometimes, colorectal cancer can develop without showing any symptoms. With progressive invasion of tumours, the following symptoms can be seen:
Read more about symptoms of cancer you shouldn’t ignore
The common diagnostic tests that are used to determine colorectal cancer are -
Colonoscopy: It is commonly used to detect colon cancers or precancerous polyps/tumours. A thin tube is inserted through the rectal opening.
CT scan or MRI scan: For determining the stage of cancer, a CT scan or MRI scan is taken. It is also used to check whether the cancer has spread to other organs. Here are top 10 facts you should know about CT scan.
Sigmoidoscopy: This is another scope examination which is used to detect cancer in the lowest part of the colon. It is similar to colonoscopy but it uses a smaller tube than the one used in colonoscopy.
Read about biomarkers: A new non-invasive technique to diagnose colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer can be treated by -
Chemotherapy: It is usually initiated after the colon tumour is surgically removed in order to prevent recurring tumours. A combination of anticancer drugs may be administered orally or directly into the bloodstream. Read more about chemotherapy and its side-effects.
Surgery: Cancerous tumours in the colon can be safely removed with surgery. The type of surgery to be performed depends on the size and the location of the tumour. Partial colectomy is a surgical procedure in which a part of the colon or the rectum containing the tumour is taken out along with a surrounding healthy tissue which is reconnected later. Sometimes, a colostomy is performed in which the healthy end of the large intestine is removed. You may also like to read about latest research and advances in cancer treatment.
Radiotherapy: High-energy rays are used to kill cancer cells and stop their growth. It is sometimes used before performing a surgery to shrink the size of the tumour.
Here is how vitamin D helps to fight colorectal cancer.
Not all colorectal cancers are fatal. Early detection and treatment can lead to an excellent outcome in colorectal cancer patients. In fact, more than 60 percent of cases of colorectal can be cured completely if they are detected at an early stage. Read about beating cancer with naturopathy and herbal medicine.
Therefore, initial symptoms should not be ignored. If you have a family history of cancer, you should regularly screen yourself. Otherwise, screening should be initiated soon after the age of 50 years. Here are some tips to prevent cancer.