Colorectal cancer does not discriminate, as the condition can develop in anyone. However, certain individuals may be at a higher risk, which is why understanding potential symptoms and scheduling regular cancer screenings is essential when it comes to fighting this life-threatening disease. Read on to learn more about the risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer.
Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors
Colorectal cancer is often referred to as "the silent killer," due to the fact that many individuals do not experience symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms do develop, they can often be mistaken for less severe conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, which can lead to late detection of the cancer in its advanced stages
While colorectal cancer can strike at any age, it is more common in individuals who are aged 50 or older. Additional risk factors include obesity, excessive alcohol use, family history of colorectal cancer and a history of Crohn's disease. Crohn's disease causes inflammation of the colon, which can lead to abnormal cell changes that may increase the risk of tumor development.
Colorectal Cancer Symptoms
Colorectal cancer symptoms can mimic symptoms of less severe conditions, which is why it is extremely important for individuals aged 50 or older to submit to regular cancer screenings. Localized symptoms can include constipation, bloody stools, bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhea and rectal bleeding. Symptoms that occur throughout the body can include appetite loss, weight loss, exhaustion and jaundice, a condition that causes yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Diagnostic Testing for Colorectal Cancer
Diagnostic testing procedures include sensitive fecal blood tests to detect minuscule amounts of blood in the feces, sigmoidoscopy tests to examine the rectum and lower section of colon for abnormal growths such as polyps, and colonoscopy tests to examine the entire colon and rectum. If abnormal tissue is detected during a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy procedure, it is immediately biopsied and evaluated.
Colorectal Cancer Treatment Options
If colorectal cancer is detected following testing, treatment for the condition depends on the specific stage of cancer. In certain cases, multiple treatments may be needed in order to completely remove the malignancies. Colorectal cancers are treated with surgical procedures, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted drug therapies that work to eradicate specific areas of cancer cells. Targeted drug therapy is often recommended to individuals with advanced colorectal cancer.
Early Detection is Key
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both women and men in the United States, and early detection of the disease is key. Understanding the early symptoms of the disease and scheduling regular colorectal cancer screenings can help to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment. Need more help? If you want to ask more questions and learn more, contact a company like Northwest Gastroenterology Associates with any questions or concerns you might have?Share