What You Should Know about Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is a kind of cancer that affects the colon and rectum. It is also known as bowel cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer.
In 2022, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there will be 106,180 new cases of colon cancer and 44,850 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States.
Colorectal cancer is the third most frequent cancer in the United States. It is also the second leading cause of death among cancers that affect both men and women.
The prevalence varies from country to country. It is more prevalent in nations with a better economic level, but according to a 2021 study, it is becoming more widespread in all countries. It is more likely to impact persons with low incomes, according to Trusted Source.
Medical advancements have reduced the number of deaths. And, as the 2021 research points out, the frequency of diagnoses in those under 50 is increasing, presumably as a result of improved screening.
Learn about colorectal cancer symptoms and treatments in the sections below. Find more about the risk factors as well. Some of them may be limited by taking actions.
In the early stages of colorectal cancer, there may be no symptoms. If that's the case, they might add Trusted Source:
- alterations in bowel habits
- blood in feces that makes it look dark brown or black bright red blood from the rectum abdominal pain and bloating feeling full, even after a long time has passed since a meal
- weariness or fatigue
- unexplained Anemia from weight reduction
If a doctor notices indications of anemia during a normal physical examination, they may recommend colorectal cancer screening. They might also detect it with normal screening.
Around 40% of persons with this kind of cancer are diagnosed while it is still in its early stages, according to Trusted Source.
The symptoms might be similar to those of a variety of different illnesses. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical help.
Early warning indications
People who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer after reporting symptoms include:
- Source you can trust 37% have blood in the feces or rectum
- Abdominal discomfort affects 34% of people
- Anemia affects 23% of the population
Those who get the diagnosis after seeking emergency medical attention include:
- A bowel obstruction affects 57% of people
- Peritonitis, or inflammation of the stomach lining, affects 25% of people
- A perforation, or hole in the gut, affects 18 percent of people
Some patients may not have symptoms until the cancer has progressed to the lungs, liver, or other organs. The symptoms vary depending on the afflicted location.
When cancer spreads to the liver, it may induce jaundice, which causes the whites of the eyes to become yellow. The skin of a person with white or light brown complexion might seem yellowish.
When cancer attacks the lungs, it might cause breathing problems or a cough.
Risk factors and causes
Colorectal cancer has no known origin, however it is most likely caused by a mix of hereditary and environmental factors.
According to study from 2022, over 70% of instances occur for no apparent explanation, while 10% seem to be caused by genetic disorders, and 20% occur in familial clusters.
Other colorectal cancer risk factors might include the following:
- being over 50, being male, having a poor income, and eating a low-fiber, high-animal protein, saturated fats, and calorie diet
- eating alcohol and smoking a diet heavy in red or processed meats
- being overweight or obese having low levels of physical activity
- irritable bowel disease (IBD)
- having type 2 diabetes and possessing specific genetic characteristics
- having had breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer as a kid having had radiation treatment for abdominal cancer as a youngster having colon or rectum polyps
Polyps may be malignant or precancerous. Learn about sessile polyps, a form of colon polyp that may grow.
Black Americans are at a higher risk
According to 2018Trusted Source research, Black Americans are more likely than any other demographic in the United States to develop and die from colon cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, Black individuals have a 20 percent greater probability of getting this form of cancer than white people, and their death rate is 40 percent higher.
Socioeconomic issues and disparity in screening and other elements of healthcare, as well as inequity in work, food, and other aspects of everyday living, are cited by the ACS.
According to the authors of the 2018 study, further research is needed to determine if colorectal cancer affects Black individuals differently. They go on to say that this sort of research might lead to more effective therapy.
Regular screening is recommended by the American College of Physicians for people who:
- are those who have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer Over 50, Black Americans aged 45 and over are not Black, and they have an average risk
- adenomatous polyposis, Lynch syndrome, or Crohn's disease
A doctor will advise you on a screening schedule. They could suggest a stool test every two years and a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy every ten years, for example.
The distinctions between precancerous lesions and polyps and cancerous polyps should also be understood.
Precancerous lesions or polyps may occur in anybody over the age of 50. The gold standard for eliminating them is a colonoscopy. A doctor may also examine for malignant polyps during the operation.
Polyps may be detected using screening before they become malignant. It can also identify colon cancer in its early stages, making treatment simpler.
A doctor identifies colorectal cancer after conducting a colonoscopy in 80 percent of instances because the individual has symptoms. Routine screening catches 11% of cases, while 7% of persons with colorectal cancer are diagnosed after seeking emergency medical attention for acute stomach symptoms.
The following are the most popular colorectal cancer screening and diagnostic techniques recommended by Trusted Source.
The gold-standard diagnostic technique for colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy. It has a high degree of precision and can pinpoint the exact location of a tumor.
A colonoscope, a long, thin, flexible instrument with a light and a camera, is used during the process. The doctor may view the whole colon and rectum. During the surgery, they may remove polyps or take a biopsy of tissue for examination.
Although a colonoscopy is pleasant, some patients choose to take a light sedative to help them relax. A laxative solution may also be required to clear the colon prior to surgery.
Bleeding and colon wall perforation are uncommon but potential consequences.
Stool blood test
This test examines a feces sample for blood. Several circumstances Blood in the stool may be caused by Trusted Source, and a positive result does not always signal cancer is present.
Immunochemistry of feces
This test, also known as a fecal occult blood test, looks for concealed blood in the lower intestine. It entails collecting a stool sample at home using a little kit.
DNA analysis of feces
This test looks for multiple DNA markers that are secreted into stool by colon cancer or precancerous polyps. At home, a person collects an entire bowel movement for laboratory testing. A colonoscopy is required if the result is positive.
It's important to remember that this test can't identify every cancer-related DNA signature.
Sigmoidoscopy with flexibility
The rectum and sigmoid colon – the final segment of the colon before the rectum — are examined with a sigmoidoscope, a flexible, thin, illuminated tube.
The test just takes a few minutes and is not painful, although it might be unpleasant. Perforation of the colon's wall is a possibility.
Enema with barium X-ray
On an X-ray, barium is a contrast dye that may expose any uncommon characteristics. As an enema, a healthcare expert administers it to the colon.
Following a barium enema X-ray, a doctor may prescribe a colonoscopy for further evaluation.
Colonoscopy by CT
This results in colon images. It is less intrusive than a colonoscopy, but if a mass is discovered, the patient will need a colonoscopy.
Scanners for imaging
If cancer has spread to another region of the body, ultrasound, CT, or MRI scans may reveal it.
Several variables influence the appropriate treatment strategy for colorectal cancer. Among them are:
Chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and surgery are all options. Palliative care may also assist control symptoms like pain and enhance overall quality of life.
Colorectal cancer that is localized to the colon is treated mostly with surgery. Its goal is to remove malignant tissue, such as tumors and lymph nodes, and stop the cancer from spreading.
After removing malignant spots, the surgeon normally reconnects the intestine, although they may need to establish a stoma for drainage into a colostomy bag. This is usually just transitory.
Early-stage cancer may be completely removed with surgery. Surgery cannot stop the cancer from progressing in its later stages, but it may help relieve symptoms by eliminating a blockage.
Colon cancer surgery may be open, requiring a big incision. It might be laparoscopic surgery, which is less invasive and involves just small incisions. During surgery, the surgeon often employs robotic instruments.
The following are the most prevalent forms of colon cancer surgery:
This entails eliminating malignant tissues in their early stages. A surgeon removes polyps and some colon tissue during the surgery.
A colectomy is the surgical removal of part or all of the colon. The surgeon reattaches the remaining portions if the procedure is just partial. A hemicolectomy, partial colectomy, or segmental excision are all terms used to describe this procedure.
A complete colectomy is when the whole colon is removed. This is a less usual procedureTrusted Source, and a surgeon may only consider it if there are several polyps.
Removing stumbling blocks
A malignant tumor may sometimes completely or partially obstruct the colon. A surgeon may use a stent to open the colon if this occurs.
They may conduct a colectomy and link one end of the remaining piece of the colon to a stoma through which feces may pass if a stent fails or the obstruction is severe.
Malignant cells across the body from a reliable source This might aid in the treatment of colon cancer or the reduction of a tumor prior to surgery. In the latter phases, it may also assist ease discomfort.
However, since it affects both malignant and healthy cells, this technique may have extensive negative consequences.
This entails taking medications that inhibit or delay the development of particular proteins. Cancerous cells from a reliable source.
Because these medications solely target malignant cells, the side effects are frequently less than those of chemotherapy.
This drug-based therapy aids the immune system in detecting and eliminating malignant cells from the body. Some persons with advanced colorectal cancer may benefit from it.
An autoimmune response, in which the body mistakenly targets its own cells, is one of the possible side effects.
This includes destroying malignant cells and preventing them from proliferating using high-energy radiation beams.
It may be suggested by a doctor to help reduce a tumor before rectal cancer surgery. They may also use it in conjunction with chemotherapy, a technique called as chemoradiation.
It may have both long- and short-term negative consequences.
Ablation is the process of destroying a tumor without removing it by employing microwaves, radiofrequency, ethanol, or cryosurgery.
A probe or needle is used to provide the treatment, which is guided by ultrasound or CT imaging.
End-of-life and palliative care
Colorectal cancer cannot be cured if it spreads to organs other than the colon and progresses to stage 4. Other possibilities include:
A procedure to clear a blockage
To shrink tumors, radiation treatment or chemotherapy are used. Hospice care counseling pain alleviation therapy for medication adverse effects