Ignorance is bliss. What you don’t know cannot hurt you is the meaning of this famous proverb. This may be true to life in general but unfortunately this is completely opposite in case of Cancer. If you are diagnosed at an early stage of cancer, the chances of your survival are very high. Today, we’ll learn everything about colorectal cancer, the third most common type of cancer behind Lung cancer and Breast cancer.
Colorectal Cancer is the development of cancer at colon, rectum or parts of large intestine. It often starts as the development of small, non cancerous clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Overtime, some of these polyps become large and develop as colon cancer.
Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
- Change in bowel habits like diarrhea, constipation or a change in the consistency of stool.
- Blood in the stool.
- Persistent gas, cramps or pain in abdomen.
- Loss of Appetite.
- Loss of Weight.
- Weakness or Fatigue.
Most colorectal cancer are caused due to lifestyle factors and increasing age. Only a small number of cases are related to genetic disorders. Most common causes are:
- Food high in fat and low in fiber diet
- Older age (50+)
- Red and processed meat
- Lack of physical activity
Some of the Inherited gene mutations also increase the risk of colon cancer although these genes are linked to only a small percentage of colon cancer cases. Most common gene mutations that have a high chance of developing colon cancer are:
Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) also called Lynch syndrome, increases the risk of colon cancer and other cancers. People with HNPCC tend to develop colon cancer before age 50.
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) FAP is a rare disorder that causes you to develop thousands of polyps in the lining of your colon and rectum. People with untreated FAP have a greatly increased risk of developing colon cancer before age 40.
It is difficult to diagnose colorectal cancer at its early stage. Polyps may be small and produce little to no symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screening tests to identify and remove polyps in early stage before they develop and turn into colorectal cancer.
Once you’ve been diagnosed with colon cancer, doctors suggest some tests to determine the stage of the colon. Knowing the stage of the cancer helps in determining what treatment is appropriate for you and the treatment plan to be followed.
The stages of colon cancer are:
- Stage I: Your cancer has grown through the superficial lining (mucosa) of the colon or rectum but hasn’t spread beyond the colon wall or rectum.
- Stage II:Your cancer has grown into or through the wall of the colon or rectum but hasn’t spread to nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage III:Your cancer has invaded nearby lymph nodes but isn’t affecting other parts of your body yet.
- Stage IV:Your cancer has spread to distant sites, such as other organs — for instance, to your liver or lung.
Treatment for colorectal cancer, or any cancer for that matter, largely depends on the stage of your cancer. The three primary treatment options are:
- For early stage colorectal cancer, Surgeries such as Endoscopic mucosal resection and Minimally invasive surgery are performed.
- If the cancer has grown into or through your colon, surgeries such as partial colectomy and lymph node removal are advised.
- If your cancer is very advanced, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are recommended. This isn’t done to cure cancer but instead to relieve signs and symptoms such as bleeding and pain.
The Institute of Colorectal Surgery at Apollo is well equipped with the most advanced technology including Robotic and Laparoscopic for the treatment of all abdominal colorectal procedures and performs more than 1,200 colorectal surgeries each year. We are among one of the first dedicated centres for Anorectal Diseases in India providing stateoftheart treatments in Proctology, Pelvic Floor Diseases, and Laparoscopic & Robotic Colorectal Surgery for Colorectal Cancer. For further details you can consult our doctors.