Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention
Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention
Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that affects roughly one in every 23 men and one in every 25 women across the globe. However, it can be effectively treated if caught early. In this blog article, we’ll cover the signs, symptoms, and common causes of colon cancer, as well as the preventative measures that can be taken.
You’re here because you have concerns. Maybe something just doesn’t feel right. If you’re worried that you may have colon cancer, don’t wait to be evaluated by a medical practitioner. Book an appointment today. Contact our specialists here.
Read the full article or Use the quick links to jump ahead.
- What is colorectal (colon) cancer?
- What are the causes of colorectal cancer?
- What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?
- Who is at risk of developing colorectal cancer?
- How is colorectal cancer treated?
- How to prevent colorectal cancer?
What is colorectal (colon) cancer?
Colorectal cancer, also known as bowel cancer, is cancer of the large intestine (colon) or rectum. There is more than one type of colon cancer, the most common being adenocarcinomas, which develops in the inside lining of the bowel, in the cells that produce the mucus needed for the working of the gut.
Besides bowel cancer, there are also other types of cancers that occur in relation to the small and large bowel.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumours typically form in the muscle layers of the digestive system and often begin as benign tumours
- Lymphomas which can develop in the lymph glands and lymphatic tissue anywhere in the body, including around the small and large intestines
- Sarcomas which most often form in the soft tissue of the colon, such as the muscles
- Carcinoids which begin in the hormone-making cells of the intestine
Although most of the types of cancers listed above do not share the same symptoms as colon cancer and are not commonly understood as bowel cancer, they are still cancer diseases that our Specialist Surgeons treat.
What are the causes of colorectal cancer?
The most common causes of colorectal cancer are inherited or acquired genetic mutations. While these mutations aren’t a guarantee that you’ll develop colon cancer, they can increase your risk.
As with all cancers, cells divide abnormally and, if not detected and killed by the body’s defences, can grow in the lining of the colon. Cancers may develop directly or go through a precursor stage that includes the formation of a not yet cancerous growth commonly known as polyps. These polyps are benign and can be removed endoscopically. Left untreated, however, they can become more aggressive and turn into cancer.
What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?
We often get asked if there are warning signs to look out for. Here are a few common symptoms that occur in the early stage of colon cancer:
- Changes in your bowel habit, including either or both diarrhoea and constipation
- Cramps or pain in the abdomen
- Changes in your stool shape and colour
- Blood in your stool
- Bloating or excessive gas
- Unexplained weight loss
- Low blood count (anaemia)
Many of these symptoms are not specific to cancer. Other bowel conditions, including benign diseases, may cause such symptoms, but this needs to be checked out by a doctor to rule out cancer or detect it early so that treatment can be effective and curative.
If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed above, contact one of our Specialist Doctors. We can discuss your concerns and arrange appropriate investigations for your situation.
Who is at risk of developing colorectal cancer?
As with many cancers, some risks are avoidable, and some are unavoidable. For example, here are the most common causes of colon cancer:
- Age: your chances of developing colorectal cancer increase from 50 years onwards
- A family history of colon cancer (or other cancers such as breast, ovarian, and endometrial) in your first and second-degree relatives
- A history of bowel diseases or colon polyps
- Heavy drinkers
- Overweight or obese people
- Diabetic (Type-2)
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
- Consuming processed meat excessively
How is colorectal cancer treated?
Firstly, it is vital to accurately determine the extent of the cancer. This will include a combination of blood tests, a camera inspection of your bowel, and X-ray scans. Once we know the extent of the disease, treatment can be planned. While most bowel cancers are primarily treated by surgical removal, other modalities of treatment may involve radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or endoscopic procedures. Our doctors will ensure that the most up-to-date treatment options are considered and planned according to the individual patient’s situation.
How to prevent colorectal cancer?
Firstly, you want to start by cutting out cancer-causing agents such as cigarettes, processed foods, excessive red meat, and alcohol from your diet. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a glass of red wine or a slice of salami now and then. But moderation is the key.
Eat a more plant-based diet. We’re not built to eat red meat every night, so focus on adding more nuts, vegetables, and grains to your diet.
You also want to get active. If you have a desk-bound job, make sure you’re setting aside time every day to move, whether that’s going to the gym or going for a walk around your neighbourhood, even doing the housework.
If you’re overweight, speak to a nutritionist about how you can safely shed those unwanted kilos. Adding regular exercise and a healthy diet will be life-changing.
If you have Type-2 diabetes, make sure to manage your condition. Also, if you have a family history of colon cancer or are over 50 as a preventative measure, we suggest you arrange a colonoscopy with your attending physician. A few small changes can massively impact your risk of developing colorectal cancer. Start early.
Stop wondering and start doing
Something brought you here. Something made you read this blog post. This is your chance to clear up any doubt or concerns you have. Then, all you need to do is take action. Of course, you likely have nothing to worry about, but wouldn’t you like to know for sure?
Colorectal cancer is treatable if caught early. So get assessed sooner rather than later. Review our Specialist doctors page and book your appointment. So many cancers can be treated and effectively cured if only patients paid attention to changes in their body and did something about it.
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