September 24, 2023

NVT Health

Health Blog

Colorectal Cancer: Symptoms, Causes & Diagnosis

Certain types of cancer don’t exhibit symptoms the right way. One of them is colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer.

Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the colon or large intestine. To your knowledge, the colon is the last part of the digestive tract. This type of cancer is usually common in older adults. But it can happen at any age.

It usually starts as small non-cancerous cells inside the colon called polyps. But over time, it develops into colorectal cancer.

Luckily, there are different treatments available including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. If you are eager to know more you should give this article a read.

Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer occurs when cells lining the rectum or colon start growing abnormally. The worst thing about colon cancer is that it doesn’t show any symptoms until the malignancy has advanced. This is why it is crucial to get your colon checked regularly.

The main symptoms of colorectal cancer are:

  • Frequent constipation or diarrhoea that lasts longer than a few days
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Increased fatigue and weakness
  • Blood in stool
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Constant feeling of bowel movement even after going to the toilet
  • Abdominal discomforts, such as gas, cramps, or pain

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should consult a doctor immediately. After all, you will not want to risk things with your health.

Causes of Colorectal Cancer

It is not certain what causes most colorectal cancer. However, it is noticed that colon cancer starts with healthy colon cells changing in their DNA. In other words, the cells start to mutate, which eventually leads to colon cancer.

When the DNA in a cell gets damaged, it becomes malignant. Unlike healthy cells, it starts to divide without any control. As the new cells accumulate, it turns into a malignant tumour.

When left untreated for too long, the cancerous cells invade other parts of the body and thus, risking your life.

How is colorectal cancer diagnosed & treated?

Different tests are used to diagnose colon cancer. It is diagnosed when your colon screening results are not normal or you show symptoms.

The tests run by your doctor to diagnose colon cancer are:

  • Blood tests
  • Biopsy
  • Diagnostic colonoscopy
  • Imaging tests such as CT scan, X-rays, PET scan, MRI, angiography, or ultrasound
  • Proctoscopy

After it is confirmed that you have colon cancer, the treatment is started. It is treated based on the stage of cancer, which is identified by the severity of the malignancy. The most common treatment methods include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

In some cases, surgery is enough for the patient. But in more advanced stages, the patient is also given radiation, which is performed by a qualified Radiation oncologist. Sometimes, the radiation is also used before surgery to shrink the size of the tumour, so that it becomes easier to remove.

Final Words

Even though colorectal cancer is common in elderly people, it can happen at any age. To detect it at the right time, you should regularly go for colon screening, especially after the age of 40.