Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the colon or rectal and then starts growing uncontrollably to other parts of the body. It is situated in the lower part of your digestive system also called ‘the gastrointestinal system’. In colorectal cancer, you’ll notice changes in bowel movements and experience certain symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool. It is one of the second deadliest cancer in the world that happens to people over the age group of 50.
How does Colorectal Cancer start?
Colorectal cancer starts growing in the inner lining of the colon and rectal. This cancer growth is called a ‘polyp’. It then slowly starts spreading to different organs such as the lungs, bones, liver, lymph nodes, brain, or spinal cord. The chances of polyp turning into cancer depend on some circumstances such as –
- If the polyp is a Sessile serrated polyp (SSP) or Traditional serrated adenomas (TSA) then there is a high risk of colorectal cancer growth.
- The size of the polyp is larger in size usually more than 1cm.
- More than 3 polyps are found in the inner lining of the colon or rectal.
Causes and Risk Factors of Colorectal Cancer
The causes of colon or rectal cancer are mainly related to the genetic environment or mutations from hereditary syndromes. According to WHO(World Health Organization) statistics, 70% of Colorectal Cancer happen without any clear reason. However, it also happens due to certain risk factors. The common risk factors included are –
- Being male and over age 50
- Diet rich in low-fibers or highly processed red meat
- Alcohol consumption
- Overweight or Obesity
- Certain genetic features or hereditary syndromes
- Polyps in the colon or rectum
- Undergone radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
- Inflammation in bowel
Having one of the risk factors mentioned above does not mean you’ll get cancer. It however increases your chances of getting colorectal cancer.
Symptoms and Signs of Colorectal Cancer
The symptoms of colorectal cancer are difficult to determine at the early stage of cancer. However, if you are experiencing an infection, irritable bowel syndrome, or hemorrhoids then you need to seek adequate treatment on time. If the above symptoms persist long enough talk to Sunrise Oncology Center doctors for recommended medical tests to determine the exact cause. The list of symptoms you should look out for are –
- Rectal bleeding
- Abdominal Pain
- Narrowing of stools
- Weight loss
- Weakness & Loss of appetite
As colorectal cancer shows no major signs in the early stages except for some mild complications of infection in the bowel. Therefore, early detection of colorectal cancer can help in treating cancer effectively by stopping its growth in different organs of the body.
How to Diagnose Colorectal Cancer?
The procedures required to treat Colorectal Cancer are determined by the Stages(Stage 0, Stage I,…Stage IV) of cancer. Sunrise Oncology Center provides a list of treatments after the stage of cancer is signified by doctors through screening tests including –
- CT Scan – It captures pictures of inside areas of the body such as the abdomen, chest, or pelvis. A dye may be injected through veins for the organs to be clearly visible in pictures. These are basically called Computed tomography or Computerized axial tomography which effectively examines cancer spread in the body.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Scan – It uses magnetic radio waves for detecting cancer. Glodinium drug is inserted into the veins for a detailed picture of inside areas.
- Chest X-ray – It is a beam of energy that goes inside the body to determine cancer. It helps doctors to find out the spread of cancer cells in the lungs.
- Lymph Node Biopsy – Lymph nodes are removed after checking under a microscope. A surgery or endoscopic ultrasound procedures are performed when colon polyps are too big in size.
- Ultrasound – It creates a detailed picture of internal organs. Endorectal cancer is specifically used to determine cancer spread in the rectal. However, they are not so accurate in providing information on cancer growth in lymph nodes or the pelvis. CT scans and MRIs are the best options for detecting these cancer cells.
- Blood Tests – A person suffering from colorectal cancer often bleeds in the large intestine or rectal. A blood test can help in determining the red blood cells in the body that will indicate bleeding occurrence.
Treatments for Colorectal Cancer
The diagnostic procedures will determine the effective treatment options for you based on your condition. The local and systemic treatments provided by Sunrise Oncology Center are –
- Surgery for colon and rectal cancer – Surgery is done to remove the blockage of the colon. The colon is cut from the tumor and attached to the stoma for the stool to pass. It takes only a few days for the patient to recover from surgery to start other therapeutical treatments.
- Chemotherapy – It is injected via veins or administered through the mouth to kill cancerous cells left in the body after surgery. It travels through the bloodstream and reaches most parts of the body.
- Targeted Therapy – It directly targets proteins that help in the spread and growth of cancer cells. It is especially used when chemotherapy doesn’t work. It can also be used in a combination therapy approach for better efficacy of targeted cancer treatments.
- Immunotherapy – In this treatment, a patient’s own immune system is boosted to fight and destroy cancer cells in the body.
- Radiation Therapy – It uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. It can be used before surgery to shrink tumors for easy removal of tumors during surgery or after surgery to kill cancer cells that may have been left behind.
If cancer starts recurring again, the best option is a combination of treatments from surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. We also recommend Immunotherapy for Stage IV colon cancer. You can also search for clinical trials with us to get access to newer treatments.
- Colon treatment – https://www.cancer.gov/types/colorectal/patient/colon-treatment-pdq, last accessed on 6th April 2022
- Treatment of Colon Cancer by Stage – https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/treating/by-stage-colon.html, last accessed on 29th June 2020
- Colorectal Cancer – https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/what-is-colorectal-cancer.html, last accessed on 29th June 2020
- Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer – https://www.cancercenter.com/cancer-types/colorectal-cancer/symptoms, last accessed on 24th June 2022