Published January 11, 2012
According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, the general risk of developing colorectal cancer is 5.1 percent, and it varies based on numerous risk factors such as diet, lifestyle, genetic inheritance and medical history. For instance, people who have had ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which cause inflammation of the colon, are at a greater risk of developing colorectal cancer (cancer that starts in either the colon or the rectum). Given its prevalence, a knowledge of the colorectal cancer can save lives.
Unfortunately colorectal cancer can develop without any symptoms. Other times there will only be slight, easily missed symptoms. You should not wait until you detect a sign before you discuss screening procedures with your doctor. However, it is important to know the potential outward manifestation of this cancer. If you notice blood in your stool or anal bleeding, you should consult a medical expert immediately. Often bowel movements will change, resulting in constipation. You may feel that you cannot empty your bowel entirely. Colorectal cancer can also cause perpetual abdominal pain, weakness, fatigue and unexplained weight loss. Feeling nauseous and vomiting are also common.
Abnormal growths in colon and rectum
Colorectal cancers often manifest as abnormal growths inside the colon known as polyps. If surgeons discover polyps, they can sometimes remove these growths to prevent the development of cancer entirely. There are four kinds of polyps that appear in the colon: inflammatory, hyperplastic, tubular adenoma and villous adenoma. Inflammatory polyps do not turn into cancer. Hyperplastic polyps occasionally become cancerous. Tubular adenoma polyps will almost certainly become cancerous and should be removed immediately by way of a colonoscopy before cancer develops. If you have a history of this malignant polyp, regular reexaminations are mandatory. Villous adenoma polyps carry the greatest risk of turning cancerous, and multiple surgical procedures may be required.
The importance of screenings
Though colorectal cancer is highly deadly, when discovered early it can be treated. Surgery and chemotherapy have proven highly effective in treating this cancer even after the disease spreads to nearby lymph nodes. The Colon Cancer Alliance reports that if everyone over 50 years of age had regular screenings, 80 percent of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented. Many factors pertaining to the development of cancer are beyond our control, but some measures can be taken to reduce your risk. Along with regular screenings, you should limit alcoholic beverages, eat plenty of vegetables and exercise regularly.
There are three common types of surgery for colorectal cancer. Colonoscopy seeks to remove cancerous polyps with a colonoscope. In laparoscopy, a surgeon looks at the inside of the abdomen and then removes the cancerous tumor and a surrounding part of the colon. Open surgery is a method to remove the tumor after making a large incision in the abdomen.