What is Colorectal Cancer? Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
Colorectal cancer, also known as bowel cancer, is a type of cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. The colon and rectum are part of the large intestine, which is responsible for processing and eliminating waste from the body.
Colorectal cancer often begins as a small growth called a polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Over time, some polyps can develop into cancer, which can spread to nearby tissues and organs.
Colorectal Cancer Symptoms
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Rectal bleeding
- Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
- Narrow stools
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fatigue or weakness
Colorectal Cancer Causes
The exact causes of colorectal cancer are not fully understood, but research suggests that a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors may play a role in its development. Some of the factors that may contribute to the development of colorectal cancer include:
- Age: The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with age, with most cases occurring in individuals over the age of 50.
- Genetics: Some inherited genetic mutations can increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer, including mutations in the genes responsible for Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).
- Family history: Individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps may be at increased risk of developing the disease.
- Lifestyle factors: Certain lifestyle factors, such as a diet high in processed or red meats, lack of physical activity, and tobacco and alcohol use, may increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis, can increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Colorectal Cancer Treatment
Treatment for colorectal cancer depends on several factors, including the stage of the cancer, the location of the tumor, and the individual’s overall health. Treatment options may include:
- Surgery: Surgery is the most common treatment for colorectal cancer and involves removing the tumor and surrounding tissue. Depending on the location and extent of the cancer, surgery may involve a partial or complete removal of the colon or rectum.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells and may be used in combination with surgery, radiation therapy, or both. Chemotherapy is often recommended for advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells and may be used before or after surgery, or in combination with chemotherapy.
- Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy drugs are designed to target specific proteins or genes that help cancer cells grow and divide, and may be used in combination with chemotherapy or alone.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy uses the body’s immune system to help fight cancer and may be used in advanced or metastatic colorectal cancer.