Colorectal cancer, commonly known as bowel cancer, includes cancerous growth in either the colon, rectum, appendix and even anus at times. It is considered as one of the most common tumours in the developed world. Colorectal cancer rarely affects people who are below 40 years of age. However, the risk increases with age and most people with this condition are over 60 years of age.
Most of the large intestinal cancers occur in the end of colon or in the rectum. These type of cancers run in the families, however, 90% of colorectal cancers occur in people who do not have any strong family history of the disease.
Signs & symptoms
There are several changes that may hint the growth of tumours in the bowel. It’s time to see your doctor when there is:
- Change in bowel habits
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Blood or slime in stools
- Rectal discomfort or a feeling of fullness after defecation
According to medical research, there are a number of risk factors in connection with colorectal cancer
- Diet which is high in animal fat and low in fibre can increase the risk of colorectal cancer. The disease is rarely found in countries in which a high-fibre diet is common.
- All those who are affected by ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease are at a greater risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Colorectal cancer can also arise due to genetic changes in DNA.
- The condition called Polyposis coli, which runs in families can also lead to this type of cancer.
You should immediately see your doctor if you notice a sudden chance in your bowel habit along with mucus or blood in the stools, and abdominal pain. Also, even after defecation you may often feel that the rectum has not emptied properly. Your doctor may ask you to take a series of tests that include sigmoidoscopy, X-ray and colonoscopy. In short, the entire large intestine is examined for the evidence of tumours. The biopsy sample of the tissue can be tested in the laboratory to find out if it has any signs of cancer. In case the test is positive, a CT scan is advised to check how far the cancer extends and weather it has spread to other parts of the body.
Any cancer, the earlier it is diagnosed the better it is for the patient. In case of colorectal cancer, the tumour can be removed if diagnosed at an early stage. The affected area of the large intestine is removed through surgery, and the two free ends are joined together. If the cancer is limited to the intestinal wall, 90% of the patients remain free from cancer five years after treatment. However, if the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes, mainly within the liver, the survival rate is much lower. However, in this era of medical research and development, it is seen that even chemotherapy is used to treat the patients in advanced stages, but surgery still remains the best option.