If you are following up the news lately, you must have heard a lot about Colorectal Cancer, as we are celebrating this march as national colorectal cancer awareness month. And believe me, this is high time we need to be aware about the same. In 2017 in the US, an estimated 135,430 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 50,260 people will die from the disease. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women. One in 22 men and one in 24 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime.However, due to advances in screening techniques and improvements in treatments, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been falling. Colorectal cancer may be benign, or non-cancerous, or malignant. A malignant cancer can spread to other parts of the body and damage them.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
- changes in bowel habits
- diarrhea or constipation
- a feeling that the bowel does not empty properly after a bowel movement
- blood in feces that makes stools look black
- bright red blood coming from the rectum
- pain and bloating in the abdomen
- a feeling of fullness in the abdomen, even after not eating for a while.
- fatigue or tiredness
- unexplained weight loss
- a lump in the abdomen or the back passage felt by your doctor
- unexplained iron deficiency in men, or in women after menopause
Most of these symptoms may also indicate other possible conditions. It is important to see a doctor if symptoms persist for 4 weeks or more.
The stage of a cancer defines how far it has spread. Determining the stage helps chose the most appropriate treatment.
A commonly used system gives the stages a number from 0 to 4. The stages of colon cancer are:
- Stage 0: This is the earliest stage, when the cancer is still within the mucosa, or inner layer, of the colon or rectum. It is also called carcinoma in situ.
- Stage 1: The cancer has grown through the inner layer of the colon or rectum but has not yet spread beyond the wall of the rectum or colon.
- Stage 2: The cancer has grown through or into the wall of the colon or rectum, but it has not yet reached the nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage 3: The cancer has invaded the nearby lymph nodes, but it has not yet affected other parts of the body.
- Stage 4: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body, including other organs, such as the liver, the membrane lining the abdominal cavity, the lung, or the ovaries.
- Recurrent: The cancer has returned after treatment. It may come back and affect the rectum, colon, or another part of the body.
In 40 percent of cases, diagnosis occurs at an advanced stage, when surgery is likely the best option. Opt for regular screenings to avoid such situation.
A number of lifestyle measures may reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer:
- Regular screenings: Those who have had colorectal cancer before, who are over 50 years of age, who have a family history of this type of cancer, or have Crohn's disease should have regular screenings.
- Nutrition: Follow a diet with plenty of fiber, fruit, vegetables, and good quality carbohydrates and a minimum of red and processed meats. Switch from saturated fats to good quality fats, such as avocado, olive oil, fish oils, and nuts.
- Exercise: Moderate, regular exercise has been shown to have a significant impact on lowering a person's risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Bodyweight: Being overweight or obese raises the risk of many cancers, including colorectal cancer.
This was the introduction to Colorectal cancer, hope you find it informative and helpful. We will be coming up with the second part very soon. Till then, share it among people you care about as the number of people suffering from this type of cancer is constantly increasing. Stay healthy!