Colorectal Cancer – Symptoms, Signs, and Prevention – Colon Cancer

Colorectal Cancer - Symptoms, Signs, and Prevention

How colorectal cancer reacts?

Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. The colon and the rectum are parts of the large intestine, which is the lower part of the body’s digestive system. During digestion, food moves through the stomach and small intestine into the colon.

The colon absorbs water and nutrients from the food and stores waste matter (stool). Stool moves from the colon into the rectum before it leaves the body.

Cancers of the colon and rectum start when the process of the normal replacement of lining cells goes awry. Mistakes in mucosal cell division occur frequently. For reasons that are poorly understood, sometimes mistakes occur that escape our editing systems. When this occurs, these cells begin to divide independently of the normal checks and balances that control growth. As these abnormal cells grow and divide, they can lead to growths within the colon called polyps

Most colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas (cancers that begin in cells that make and release mucus and other fluids). This cancer often begins as a growth called a polyp, which may form on the inner wall of the colon or rectum. Some polyps become cancer over time. Finding and removing polyps can prevent this disease.

Colorectal cancer may be benign or malignant. Benign means the tumor will not spread, while a malignant tumor consists of cells that can spread to other parts of the body and damage them.

Colorectal cancer facts

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer diagnosed in the world. Deaths from colorectal cancer have decreased with the use of colonoscopies and fecal occult blood tests, which check for blood in the stool.

Colorectal cancer is a malignant tumor arising from the inner wall of the large intestine. Risk factors for colorectal cancer include a family history of colorectal cancer, colon polyps, and long-standing ulcerative colitis.

Removal of colon polyps can aid in the prevention of colorectal cancer. Colon polyps and early cancer may have no symptoms. Therefore regular colon cancer screening is important.

Diagnosis of colorectal cancer can be made by sigmoidoscopy or by colonoscopy with biopsy confirmation of cancer tissue. Treatment of colorectal cancer depends on the location, size, and extent of cancer spread, as well as the health of the patient. Surgery is the most common medical treatment for colorectal cancer.

Chemotherapy can extend life and improve the quality of life for those who have had or are living with metastatic colorectal cancer. It can also reduce the risk of recurrence in patients found to have high-risk colon cancer findings at surgery.

Symptoms, signs and risk factors:
– Being elderly – the older you are the higher the risk is.
– A diet that is very high in animal protein, saturated fats, calories or alcohol consumption.
– A diet that is very low in dietary fiber.
– Women who have had breast, ovary and uterus cancers or a family history of colorectal cancer.
– Patients with ulcerative colitis.

Being overweight obese or being physically inactive is also a risk. Men who are very overweight or obese during late adolescence may be more than twice as likely to develop colorectal cancer by middle age. Scientists have revealed a biological connection between obesity and colorectal cancer, and they have identified an approved drug that might prevent cancer from developing.

Smoking. This study found that smoking is significantly associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer and death. Also having Crohn’s disease or Irritable Bowel Disease have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Eating process meats or red meat in excess should also be avoided. Some studies showed these foods with a potential risk for colorectal cancer.

When you need to get yourself checked

If you notice any symptoms of colon cancer, such as blood in your stool or a persistent change in bowel habits, make an appointment with your doctor.

Talk to your doctor about when you should begin screening for colon cancer. Guidelines generally recommend that colon cancer screenings begin at age 50. Your doctor may recommend more frequent or earlier screening if you have other risk factors, such as a family history of the disease.

How do you fight against colorectal cancer

Surgery is the only curative modality for localized colon cancer (stage I-III). Surgical resection potentially provides the only curative option for patients with limited metastatic disease in the liver and/or lung (stage IV disease).

Surgical options include the following:
1. Right hemicolectomy: For lesions in the cecum and right colon
2. Extended right hemicolectomy: For lesions in the proximal or middle transverse colon
3. Left hemicolectomy: For lesions in the splenic flexure and left colon
4. Sigmoid colectomy: For sigmoid colon lesions
5. Total abdominal colectomy with ileorectal anastomosis: For selected patients with hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer, attenuated familial adenomatous polyposis, metachronous cancers in separate colon segments, or acute malignant colon obstructions with the unknown status of the proximal bowel.

Other therapeutic options for patients who are not surgical candidates include the following:
1. Cryotherapy
2. Radiofrequency ablation
3. Hepatic arterial infusion of chemotherapeutic agents

Inherited gene mutations that increase the risk of colorectal cancer

Inherited gene mutations that increase the risk of colorectal cancer can be passed through families, but these inherited genes are linked to only a small percentage of colon cancers. Inherited gene mutations don’t make cancer inevitable, but they can increase an individual’s risk of cancer significantly.

Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). HNPCC, also called Lynch syndrome, increases the risk of colon cancer and other cancers. People with HNPCC tend to develop colon cancer before age 50.

Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). FAP is a rare disorder that causes you to develop thousands of polyps in the lining of your colon and rectum. People with untreated FAP have a greatly increased risk of developing colon cancer before age 40.

FAP, HNPCC and other, rarer inherited colon cancer syndromes can be detected through genetic testing. If you’re concerned about your family’s history of colon cancer, talk to your doctor about whether your family history suggests you have a risk of these conditions.

Be careful when it comes to following a diet

Studies of large groups of people have shown an association between a typical Western diet and an increased risk of colon cancer. A typical Western diet is high in fat and low in fiber.

When people move from areas where the typical diet is low in fat and high in fiber to areas where the typical Western diet is most common, the risk of colon cancer in these people increases significantly.

It’s not clear why this occurs, but researchers are studying whether a high-fat, low fiber diet affects the microbes that live in the colon or causes underlying inflammation that may contribute to cancer risk. This is an area of active investigation and research is ongoing.

Cancer often is referred to as a single entity, but in fact, it is a group of more than 100 different diseases, much like infectious diseases. Cancers are named by the tissues from which the first tumor arises. Hence, a lung cancer that travels to the liver is not a liver cancer but is described as lung cancer metastatic to the liver, and a breast cancer that spreads to the brain is not described as a brain tumor but rather as breast cancer metastatic to the brain.

Each cancer is a different disease with different treatment options and varying prognoses (likely outcomes). In fact, each individual with cancer has a unique disease, and the relative success or lack thereof of treatment among patients with the same diagnosis may be very different.

As a result, it is important to treat each person with a diagnosis of cancer as an individual regardless of the type of cancer.

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