Raise Your Awareness about Colorectal Cancer. It Could Save Your Life
Colorectal cancer is a kind of cancer that impacts the colon or rectum and is also known as bowel cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer. When it starts in the colon, it's called colon cancer; when it starts in the rectum, it's called rectal cancer. Colorectal cancer can affect either of these organs, and it's the third most prevalent cancer globally and the second most fatal cancer. Nevertheless, it's treatable, and regular screening and healthy lifestyle choices can prevent it.
Things to know about Colorectal Cancer
1. Symptoms of colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer symptoms can vary greatly and may not manifest until cancer has advanced. Several typical symptoms of colorectal cancer include changes in bowel movements, abdominal pain or cramps, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, narrow stools, and rectal bleeding.
It's essential to recognize that other conditions may also cause these symptoms. Therefore, you must consult a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
Additionally, some individuals with colorectal cancer may not experience any symptoms at all, underscoring the significance of screening tests in catching the disease early.
2. What are the risk factors associated with colorectal cancer?
Although the exact reasons behind the onset of colorectal cancer are not entirely clear, it is assumed that a blend of genetic and environmental elements may play a role in its development. There are different types of risk factors that have been linked with an elevated chance of colorectal cancer, such as:
There are certain risk factors for colorectal cancer that are modifiable, which means they can be changed, such as:
- Carrying excess weight or being obese
- Having a sedentary lifestyle
- Following a diet that is rich in red or processed meat
- Engaging in smoking
- Consuming alcohol regularly
On the other hand, some risk factors for colorectal cancer are non-modifiable, meaning they cannot be altered. These include:
- Advancing age
- A personal history of colorectal polyps or cancer
- A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- Having an inherited syndrome
- Belonging to certain racial or ethnic groups
- Having type 2 diabetes
3. Prevention measures to consider
Although there is no guaranteed method to prevent colorectal cancer, taking certain measures can potentially reduce your risk, including modifying the controllable risk factors listed above.
Maintaining a healthy weight, consuming a diet that's abundant in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, limiting your alcohol intake, and quitting smoking are some of the measures that can aid in decreasing your chances of developing colorectal cancer.
In addition, regular screening is crucial for early detection. Adhering to these recommendations can assist in reducing your risk of colorectal cancer and improving your overall well-being.
4. Screening for colorectal cancer
Routine screening can aid in the early identification of colorectal cancer when it is most amenable to treatment. Cancer screening assessments are intended to detect cancer before symptoms arise, making it easier to treat it successfully. A successful screening exam is one that:
- Identifies cancer at an early stage
- Lowers the probability of death from cancer among individuals who undergo regular screening
- Provides greater benefits than drawbacks (potential drawbacks of screening tests comprise bleeding or other physical damage, false-positive or false-negative results, and overdiagnosis - the diagnosis of cancers that would not have eventually caused harm and did not require treatment).
The screening recommendations for colon cancer differ based on age and risk factors but typically start at age 50 for those with an average risk.
To diagnose colon cancer, healthcare providers may use various tests and procedures, including a physical examination, digital rectal examination, fecal occult blood test (FOBT), sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, virtual colonoscopy, biopsy, and DNA stool test.
5. What are the different ways cancer spreads in your body?
Cancer can spread in the body through three different methods: tissue, lymph system, and blood.
- Cancer spreads through tissue and grows into nearby areas from where it originated.
- The cancer spreads through the lymph system by entering the lymph vessels and travels to other body parts.
- Lastly, cancer can spread through the blood vessels by entering the bloodstream and traveling to other body parts.
6. What are the different stages of colorectal cancer?
The TNM system, which stands for Tumor, Node, Metastasis, is commonly used to stage colon cancer. This system is based on three main pieces of information, namely the size and extent of the primary tumor (T), whether cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes (N), and whether cancer has spread to different areas of the body (M).
Depending on these factors, colon cancer is staged from stage 0 to stage IV.
- Stage 0
Also known as carcinoma in situ, means that the cancer is only present in the innermost layer of the colon and has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs.
- Stage I
This stage indicates that cancer has grown beyond the innermost layer but has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs.
- Stage II
This means that cancer has grown into or through the colon's wall, but there is no spread to surrounding lymph nodes or other organs.
- Stage III
This indicates that the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes but not yet to other organs.
- Stage IV
It concludes that cancer has spread to other areas of the body, such as the liver or lungs.
7. What are the treatment options to consider?
Colorectal cancer treatment options depend on the cancer's stage and may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.
Surgery is the most common treatment, but other treatments may also be used alone or in combination, depending on the individual's condition.
Treatment plans are developed by a team of healthcare professionals and may also include palliative care to control symptoms and improve quality of life. Therefore, working closely with your healthcare team to develop a personalized treatment plan is important.
Raising awareness and promoting regular screening for colorectal cancer is crucial to reducing the number of deaths caused by this disease. As part of MedPRO, our physicians are available to help you take care of your health. Our primary care physicians are dedicated to providing high-quality and easily accessible healthcare and can assist you in navigating the screening process.
To find out more, contact our team at 866-423-0060 or visit our website at www.cvmedpro.com
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