The human colon, popularly known as large intestine, is almost 5 feet long and extends from the small intestine to the anus. It’s a tubular, muscular organ functioning for digestion & absorption of nutrients from food, absorption of fluids from fecal material, concentration of fecal material and storage & regulation of fecal evacuation.
‘Cancer’ is the disease involving unbridled proliferation of normal cells followed by their immense spread all over the body. In “Colorectal Cancer”, the rectum is affected, which is the last part of the colon. When cells in colon grow abnormally to spread all over the wall of the colon, they also affect the organs and lymph nodes adjacent to them. Gradually, the cell growth takes over even distant organs such as lungs, liver, brain, and bones.
Colorectal cancer is a type of malignant tumor arising from the inner wall of large intestine.
If diagnosed in initial stage, “Colon Cancer” responds best to treatment. Thus, primary screening is crucial as soon as any symptoms are noticed.
Common Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
* Changes in regular bowel habits
* Constipation or diarrhea
* Rectal bleeding
* Thinner, bleeding stools
* Abdominal bloating, cramps or discomfort
* Unexplained weight loss
Risk Factors Contributing to Colorectal Cancer
* Male gender
* Ageing (above 50 years)
* Smoking and alcohol consumption
* Physical inactivity
* Heavy meals consumption, especially red & processed meat
* Family/self history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
Diagnosing Colorectal Cancer
Primary screening tests are critical for early diagnosis. Early the detection, higher is the chance for cure.
Colorectal Cancer Treatment
There are three possible treatment alternatives for colorectal cancer. Surgery is the primary treatment for removing the affected part of the colon. A projecting mass of overgrown tissue inside the colon – polyp – is formed in most cases of colorectal cancer. If polyps are few in number, they do not need a surgery. Colonoscopy may be recommended for the same. As the disease progresses to severe stages, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used, alternatively or collectively.
Now that we know the significance of the risk factors prone to colon and rectal cancer, it’s advisable to reduce them. The best way to prevent the disease is to avoid excessive smoking, alcohol consumption and unhealthy diet consumption. Dietary modifications with fibre-rich foods, vegetables & fruits and lots of fluids help a lot. If you are obese, losing weight enables you to eliminate one of the major risk factors. Following regular physical exercise is another way to prevent the disease. If you are above 50 years of age, regular colorectal cancer screening is critical for early detection and prevention.