Do you often experience a change in your bowel habits, ie. diarrhea, constipation or a feeling that the bowel does not empty completely? Is there a bright red or dark blood in the stool? Do you experience discomfort in the abdomen, including frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness and cramps? Or is there unexplained weight loss, constant tiredness, or anaemia (iron deficiency)? If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, then you need to be careful as these could be symptoms of Colorectal Cancer. Cancer is a group of more than 100 different diseases that affect the body's basic unit, the cell. Cancer occurs when cells become abnormal and divide without control or order.
Like all other organs of the body, the colon and rectum are made up of many types of cells. The colon is the part of the digestive system where the waste material is stored. The rectum is the end of the colon adjacent to the anus. Together, they form a long, muscular tube called the large intestine (also known as the large bowel). Benign polyps do not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body. If benign polyps are not removed from the large intestine, they can become malignant (cancerous) over time. Cancer of the colon and rectum (also referred to as colorectal cancer) can invade and damage adjacent tissues and organs. Cancer cells can also break away and spread to other parts of the body (such as liver and lung) where new tumours form.
The risk factor Polyps (a non-cancerous or pre-cancerous growth associated with aging); about 10 percent of polyps are flat and have high risk of becoming cancerous
"Colorectal cancer can be prevented through regular checkups and the removal of polyps. Early diagnosis means a better chance of successful treatment. Checkup should begin at the age of 50 for all 'average risk' individuals or sooner if you have a family history of colorectal cancer, symptoms, or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease," says Dr. Pankaj Pande, Senior Consultant, Oncological Surgery, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute.
Treatment depends on the stage of cancer. More than one treatment may be used. "There is surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, antiangiogenesis therapy and targeted therapy. All these are effective methods for the treatment of colorectal cancer. The therapies are decided depending upon the stage and severity," adds Dr. Pande.
Colorectal cancer is a severe disease. The only prevention of the cancer is the early detection and complete care. Wave goodbye to colorectal cancer by heading to the right path by getting your screening done and removing the main cause of it.
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