Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that is characterised by an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the rectum or colon or both. The colon and rectum make up the large intestine, which is also called large bowl.
Colorectal cancer develops as small growths, also called polyps, on the inside of the large intestine, which is responsible for carrying the remnants of digested food from the small intestine and eliminates them as waste through the anus.
There is no particular cause of colorectal cancer, but there are certain factors that may increase one’s likelihood of developing the disease. Some of the risk factors are:
• Age: a person who is 50 years or older.
• Polyps: a person who has polyps or small growths on the inner wall of the rectum and colon.
• Family history: a person who has a relative i.e. a parent, sibling or child with colorectal cancer before he/she is 45 years old.
• Diet: a diet high in red meat i.e. beef, lamb, pork and goat.
• Inflammatory bowel disease
• Alcohol consumption
• Ethnic background: people of the Ashkenazi descent.
• Other diseases: colorectal cancer can also be associated with certain other diseases like inflammatory disease of the colon, cancers of the pancreas, ovaries, breast or uterus.
• Diet: even though the cause and effect relationship between diet and risk of developing colorectal cancer is unclear, it does influence one’s likelihood of developing the disease. It has been observed in researches that people who have a diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits are less likely to develop the disease.
• Exposure to chemicals: exposure to certain chemicals like chlorine can increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Exposure to asbestos has been implicated in the formation of polyps in the colon.
• Radiation: prior exposure to radiation.
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