What is Colorectal Cancer?

Cancer that arises from the large intestine (colon or rectum) is commonly referred to as colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is highly preventable and treatable if diagnosed early. In India, more than 25% of all colon cancer patients are younger than 40 and are diagnosed at an advanced stage.

What are the symptoms of colon cancer?

Colorectal cancer may not cause any symptoms, especially in its early stages. While some symptoms might be due to other causes like hemorrhoids, diarrhea, infection, or irritable bowel syndrome.

A change in bowel habits

Including diarrhea, constipation, narrowing of the stools, and/or feeling like your bowels are not completely empty, even after having a bowel movement.be due to other causes like hemorrhoids, diarrhea, infection, o irritable bowel

Persistent abdominal discomfort

Abdominal discomfort can cause feelings such as pain, nausea, cramping, bloating, and/or feeling unusually full, even when you have not eaten much.

Rectal bleeding

You might notice bright red blood or dark blood mixed with stools.

Weakness and/or fatigue

Weakness and/or fatigue may be a sign of colorectal cancer caused by anemia or a low red blood cell count.

Unexplained weight loss

You should always seek medical attention if you are losing weight for no known reason.

How can you detect colon cancer early?

Colon cancer can be diagnosed early by testing the stool for signs of occult bleeding or by doing a colonoscopy.

Stool can be tested at a doctor’s office or at home with an at-home test kit. If it shows signs of bleeding, a colonoscopy and biopsy is needed to make a diagnosis.

Colonoscopy can also detect and remove polyps, which can develop into cancer in the future, if left alone. Hence colonoscopy helps to prevent colon cancer.

How do you treat colorectal cancer?

Surgery is the main treatment for colorectal cancer. The part of the colon with the cancerous growth and surrounding area is removed by surgery.

After surgery, some people would need chemotherapy, based on the stage and other factors.

In rectal cancer, radiation also is often needed.

In later stages or advanced disease, chemotherapy is the main treatment. Some people would benefit from biologic treatment or immunotherapy.

What if someone in your family had colon cancer?

If someone in your family was diagnosed with colon cancer or have died from it, you have a higher risk of developing cancer. Screening should start at an earlier age in that situation.

Colorectal cancer has a cure rate of about 90% if diagnosed early. Be aware of the symptoms of colon cancer, seek medical help. Also participate in colon cancer screening programs; ask your doctor about stool occult blood test or a screening colonoscopy.

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MBBS, MD, FACP - Medical Director & Consultant Oncologist, Oncology Centre at Dr. KM Cherian Institute of Medical Sciences