What are colorectal cancers?
Colorectal cancers originate in the colon or rectum and the two cancers have a lot in common with the exception of some differences in cancer treatment. Colon and rectal cancers are unique in that they virtually always start as a polyp. The non-cancerous polyp changes as years go by, becoming pre-malignant then malignant.
Why is early colorectal cancer screening important?
Colorectal cancer is very treatable when it’s found early. About 9 out of 10 people whose colorectal cancers are found and treated early are still alive five years later. The best way to detect this disease early is through regular colorectal cancer screenings. The American Cancer Society recommends people of average risk start colorectal cancer screenings at age 45.
What are common colorectal cancer symptoms?
Often times the symptoms of colorectal cancers indicate other conditions such as an infection, irritable bowel syndrome, or hemorrhoids. Colorectal cancers symptoms can include the following:
- A change in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation)
- Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
- Cramping or abdominal pain
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
What are common colorectal cancer causes?
Researchers know that several factors can increase a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer, but they aren’t sure how these risks might directly cause colorectal cancer. Risk factors for colon and rectal cancer include:
- Age (your chances of developing cancer increase as you get older)
- Being African American or Ashkenazi Jew
- Type-2 diabetes
People with a personal history of colon health, inflammatory bowel diseases, family history, familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), Turcot syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, and MUTYH-associated polyposis are also at an increased risk.
In addition to these risk factors, there are some lifestyle factors that you can change to decrease your risk:
- Improve your diet: Diets high in fat, red meat, processed meat, fried foods might increase your risk for developing colorectal cancer
- Be more active: Sedentary lifestyles can increase your risk
- Obesity raises your risk of colon cancer
- Smoking raises your risk of developing cancer
- Heavy alcohol use increases your risk of developing cancer
How is colorectal cancer diagnosed?
Your physician will use a variety of diagnostic tests including imaging tests, blood tests, and biopsies to diagnose colorectal cancer.
What are colorectal cancer treatment options?
Colorectal cancer treatment plans will use a variety of factors including your lifestyle, type and stage of cancer. Treatment for colorectal cancer might include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and the use of targeted therapies. If you receive a diagnosis, your physician will work with you to devise a custom colorectal cancer treatment plan.