Colorectal cancer (CRC) is known to be the reason behind 10% global cancer deaths annually. However the incidence rates of CRC varied according to the geographical variations. More than half of CRC cases are found in developed countries, but the mortality rate is greater in less developed nations with insufficient health infrastructure and restricted resources.
The novel treatments have emerged for primary and metastatic colorectal cancer. These treatments include cancer drugs for advanced colorectal cancer, palliative chemotherapy, laparoscopic surgery for primary and more-aggressive types and radiotherapy for rectal cancer.
The increasing rates of CRC can be due to changing lifestyles, including low fiber diet, physical inactivity, high consumption of red and processed meat and calorie-rich diet. You can lower your risk of getting CRC by doing some changes in your daily life.
First of all, let's take a brief look on colorectal cancer:
- What is colorectal cancer?
- Symptoms of colorectal cancer
- Causes of colorectal cancer
- Risk factors for colorectal cancer
- Colorectal cancer treatment
- How to reduce the colorectal cancer risk?
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer is known to be a malignant tumor developed in the lining of the large intestine (colon) or rectum. These abnormal growths are sometimes called polyps that form inside rectum or colon. These polyps might be non-cancerous initially, but can turn into cancer over time. This is why screening is very essential for people who are at high risk of getting CRC or of age more than 50 years.
This cancer is also known with the names of colon cancer, bowel cancer or rectum cancer.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer cannot exhibit symptoms in the primary stage. With time, the following symptoms can arise:
- Change in bowel habits: You can suffer from constipation, narrowing of stools, diarrhea that lasts for many days
- Rectal bleeding, might be of bright red blood
- Blood in stools: Your stool might of dark brown or black due to blood
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Unknown weight loss
- Unexplained Anemia
- Bowel Incontinence
- Incomplete evacuation
In some patients, cancer can spread to the liver that leads to enlarged liver, jaundice or can affect lungs and cause trouble in normal breathing.
However, the abovementioned symptoms also can be result of other health problems, including hemorrhoids, infections or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, you must consult a physician to get clarity.
But, what is the exact cause behind this cancer development? Let's take a look:
Causes of colorectal cancer
The exact cause behind the development of colorectal cancer is unknown. But, many risk factors significantly associated with this cancer.
Risk factors for colorectal cancer
Risk factors of CRC can be majority categorized into lifestyle-related, genetic and environmental factors.
The genetic factors which can rise the risk of CRC include hereditary CRC syndromes:
Genetic syndromes related with colonic polyposis:
- Familial adenomatous polyposis(FAP)
- Its variants: Turcot, Gardner, and attenuated FAP syndromes
- MYH-associated polyposis
Other factors including:
- Gender and Age: Old age people are at higher risk of getting CRC. As compared to females, males are at higher risk of getting this cancer.
- Ulcerative colitis: The duration, activity and extent of this health concern can be the primary determinants.
- Long-term immunosuppression
- Diabetes mellitus
- Ethnicity: As compared to Asian population, African-American populations are at higher risk of getting CRC.
- High alcohol consumption
- Positive family history
- High consumption of red and processed meats
- Cigarette smoking
- History of cholecystectomy
- Ureterocolic anastomosis
- Taking androgen deprivation therapy
Other than this, the following factors has been also seen to be in association with high CRC risk:
- Low intake of fruits and fibers
- Coronary heart diseases
- Lowered physical activity
- Human immunodeficiency virus infection/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS)
- Pretreatment of Hodgkin lymphoma
- Radiation therapy for prostate cancer
Colorectal cancer treatment
The treatment of colorectal cancer is multidisciplinary. It might include medical, surgical, radiation oncologists, nurse specialists, gastroenterologists, pathologists and palliative care physicians. It depends on the stage and how aggressive the cancer is. Doctor plans and suggests treatment accordingly.
How to reduce the colorectal cancer risk?
The problem can be avoided. With a proper diet and good lifestyle, the risk of CRC can be reduced.
Screening at right time:
The very first thing that you need to do is do screening on time. Especially at the beginning of age 50, the screening for CRC is important.
Because, about all CRC begin with the abnormal growths, called precancerous polyps in rectum or colon. These polyps can stay in organs for years without any symptoms or aggressive nature. With time these polyps can be dangerous and metastatic.
Early screening can help you to find these polyps and you can get treatment on time. This can prevent the risk of getting colorectal cancer significantly.
So, must take care of this factor and go for screening, before you are turning into 50s.
The other major essential that needs to be taken care of to reduce the risk of CRC is to optimize your diet.
Medical experts recommended to take diet low in fats, processed meats, red meats, high in whole grains, green vegetables, fruits will help to reduce the risk of CRC.
The intake of such a diet also reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary artery diseases and obesity, which indirectly also links to reduced risk of CRC.
Researchers are also stressed on finding the medications that are associated with reduced risk of CRC.
According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, “Medication (low-dose aspirin) is associated with reduced risk of getting cardiovascular problems and colorectal cancers in some of the adults, including many risk factors and age. If it is prescribed by your physician, aspirin can also be used to reduce the risk of CRC.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices:
Other than above mentioned points, adopting healthy lifestyle habits can also help you to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. For instance, exercise everyday, lower intake of alcohol, avoiding tobacco and doing yoga.
These are some of the measures that you can adopt to keep yourself healthy. Awareness about cancer is important. Get to know what risks can increase the risk of cancers and try to avoid these.
Also, get to know some preventive measures to avoid the risk of breast cancer.