Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women combine as it can be difficult to detect in the early stage. So, when this cancer is detect in the early stage the recovery rate can be as high as 90 percent.
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal carcinoma or colorectal cancer is cancer of the large intestine and or rectum. The large intestine has several parts like ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon, and eventually the rectum. so any part of the large intestine and rectum may be involved in this cancer.
What are the risk factors of colon cancer?
There are several risk factors like:
- Older age, the chances of having colon cancer increase with age
- History of inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- Low fiber and high-fat diet
- A low diet of fruit and vegetables
- Lack of regular physical exercise
- Alcohol consumption
- Tobacco use
What are the early warning signs of colon cancer?
It has many symptoms such as:
- Change in bowel habits
- Narrowing of the stool
- Bright red blood or blood in stool
- Pain in the rectum or abdominal area
- Unexplained anemia
- Palpable abdominal mass
- Unexplained weight loss
1.Change in bowel habits:
Change in bowel habits including constipation or dietary that last more than a few days. The patient may also have difficulty emptying the bowels completely and experience discomfort when he has a bowel movement. These are usually symptoms of other less serious problems but they can also symptoms of colon cancer. If these symptoms are diagnose above the age of 50 then it could be a warning sign of colorectal cancer.
2.Narrowing of the stool:
The patient may also have stools that appear narrower than usual or have a different size or shape than normal. If there is an obstruction then the path of passing stool becomes narrow. The stool has to pass through this narrow area which changes its shape. Sometimes the shape of this stool is pencil shaped. The size and shape of the stool vary according to the size of the tumor.
3.Bright red blood or blood in stool:
That dark brown or black color of stool can also be associated with colon cancer. Other health problems can also cause bleeding in the digestive tract but if someone starts to experience bloody stool then see a doctor immediately to rule out a serious condition. This is one of the most common early warning signs of colorectal cancer.
4.Pain in the rectum or abdominal area:
The patient may also experience gas pains or stomach cramps and feel bloated or full all the time even if he has not eaten recently. The abdominal pain in colorectal cancer can be due to partial or complete obstruction of the bowel or evasion of cancer into the peritoneum.
It is due to cancer-related chronic blood loss which decreases the oxygen-carrying cells in the body. So if the patient is anemic he may find tiredness and weakness. And also may experience fatigue which improves upon resting.
6.Palpable abdominal mass:
It is on the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. The abdomen is divide into four quadrants. So if the tumor is in the right lower quadrant it may be palpable in some patients.
It is a feeling or sensation of the urge to defecate and also a sensation of incomplete defecation.
8.Unexplained weight loss:
It means someone losing weight without trying.
Vomiting due to blockage and decreased gastrointestinal motility.
Some patients may experience fever.
What happens when colon cancer spreads to other organs?
Cancer can spread into the liver via the portal vein. In that case, the patient can see a liver enlargement or hepatomegaly and jaundice-like symptoms. It can spread to the lungs and cause breathing problems. It can also spread through lymph nodes in that case the patient can see lymphadenopathy or supraclavicular lymph node enlargement. but most of the time colon cancer doesn't cause symptoms until it has grown or spread therefore it is best to be screened for cancer before having any symptoms especially if someone has any family history of cancer.
Colorectal cancer when diagnosed early through screening before have any symptoms then it might be easier to treat. Screening can also prevent colorectal cancers by finding and removing the pre-cancerous growth called polyps.