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What is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month? Why We Need To Pay Attention?

By Nishkak +2 more

Introduction

Standing among the top 5 most frequent cases reported, colorectal cancer is third-common cancer among men worldwide. An estimated number of approximately 4.4% of men (1 in 23) and 4.1% of women (1 in 25) may be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime.


Colorectal cancer also called colon cancer and bowel cancer is cancer that affects the colon, rectum and large intestine. The name of the disease varies based on where the cancer cells are present. 

The month of March is observed as colon and rectal cancer awareness month. Let us find out more about this common threat.

Causes and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Colon cancer usually begins as non-cancerous clumps of cells called polyps that may form inside the colon. If not treated, these polyps can grow to be cancerous as time passes.

Initially, polyps are small and rarely produce symptoms. This is why regular screening tests are recommended by doctors to help prevent colon cancer. Polyps can be identified and removed before they turn cancerous. Why cancer happens is not yet known. 

In its early stages, it is difficult to identify colorectal cancer symptoms. Some colorectal cancers may be present without any symptoms.

This is why regular colorectal screenings are important to detect problems early. The best procedure to identify colon cancer symptoms is a colonoscopy. Other options include CT colon, Biopsy and many others.

Among the effects it has on the body, colon cancer causes a change in bowel habits. Colorectal cancer may cause

  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Narrowing of stools
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Pain in the abdomen. 

The most noticeable of all colon cancer symptoms is blood in the stools. However, blood in the stool may be indications of other diseases as well.

Other colorectal cancer symptoms include-

  • Unexpected anaemia
  • Bloating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness

Sometimes colorectal cancer causes vomiting and abdominal or pelvic pain as well.

Who is at risk?

Men and women both are equally at risk for colorectal cancer. Colon cancer is most common among middle-aged people but may also affect teenagers. 

Colorectal cancer risk factors may include symptoms such as:

  • Older age: Colon cancer can be diagnosed at any age. However, it mostly affects those over 50.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease: Chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon and rectum that are not managed on time, increase your risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Inherited syndromes: Genetic syndromes that were passed through generations of one’s family can increase your risk of colon cancer.
  • Family history of colorectal cancer: An individual is more likely to develop colon cancer if they have someone within their immediate family with the same condition.
  • Low vegetable diet: Colorectal cancer may be associated with consuming too little vegetables and too much red meat. Diabetes: Colorectal cancer risk factors may include those suffering from poorly controlled type 2 diabetes.
  • Smoking regularly
  • Drinking alcohol regularly
  • Physical inactivity

What is the cure?

Surgical Intervention: Surgery is the most common treatment for colorectal cancer at any stage. If the cancer is found at a very early stage, it can be removed with surgery. Depending on the age and health of the patient, a laparoscopic colectomy can be done. This allows early recovery and avoids big incisions. Once the surgery is concluded, chemotherapy follows with radiation and (or) targeted drug therapy as advised by the doctor. 

Will it come back after treatment?

In most cases, colorectal cancer does not recur after surgery. However, in about 35% to 40% of people, it might recur within 3-5 years of treatment. Often when cancer recurs, it could be in the colon or rectum. However, it could also be in other parts of the body, such as the liver and lungs.

Conclusion: Why colorectal cancer needs to be discussed?

Colorectal Cancer is an actual and imminent threat that could affect anyone. Colon cancer is still not a widely discussed topic. This makes those who are suffering from colon cancer suppress themselves. It keeps them from going to a hospital out of shame. Moreover, not being aware of the threat, people do not go in for screening that could save their lives. Being a very real threat, this topic deserves its due attention. The more we talk about colorectal cancer, the easier it is for people to be aware and seek treatment. It is important to move past taboos and focus on what betters our health.

Also Read: Is Bowel Leakage a Sign of Cancer? Unpacking Oncology-Related Symptoms

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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