The colon and the rectum constitute the lower parts of the digestive system. Colorectal cancer starts either in the colon or in the rectum. As food passes through the small intestine into the large intestine or colon, it absorbs water and releases waste matter or stool into the rectum. The beginning of the growth of colorectal cancer is usually in the form of a polyp. Starting benign, they turn cancerous over a period of time. Generally, colorectal cancers develop in mucosal cells of the colon and the rectum and are known as adenocarcinomas.
FAP or familial adenomatous polyposis
HNPCC or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer
Previous incidences of colorectal cancer
Already existing polyps
History of ulcerative colitis
Crohn s disease
Family history or genetics
Diets containing red meat and processed meat
Cooking at a high flame like frying, deep frying, boiling etc generate harmful chemicals that increase the risk of colon cancer
Lack of physical activity and exercise
Early stages of the disease show no symptoms.
Rectal bleeding or bloody stools
Abdominal discomforts cramps, gas formations, pain etc.
Unexplained weight loss and anemia
Recent change in bowel habits
Sigmoidoscopy: To check for polyps and cancer
Colonoscopy: a flexible tube inserted into the body to examine the entire colon and rectum
CT colonography: Also known as virtual colonoscopy to scan the colon and rectum (done in special situations)
Both tests are done to check stool for any signs of blood indicating the presence of cancer or polyp
FOBT or faecal occult blood test
FIT or faecal immunochemical test
Surgery is the only mode of treatment for colorectal cancer. The different types of surgery performed are colectomy, low anterior resection, proctectomy and segmental resection. A colostomy is performed for cancers growing through the rectal wall and involves the muscles which control the passage of stool. Key hole surgery for colon and rectal cancer has advantages in the form of early recovery, early return to work, less pain and cosmesis, without affecting long-term results on cancer survival.
We recommend earlier screenings if risk factors are high and perform keyhole surgery for colon and rectal cancer to give a comprehensive care to the patients.Authored by Dr. Deepak Varma, MBBS, MS (General Surgery)
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