Colorectal Cancer


Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer or rectal cancer, is a type of cancer that develops in the colon or rectum. The colon and rectum are parts of the digestive system, with the colon being the large intestine and the rectum being the lower part of the colon that connects to the anus. Polyps (growths) in the inner lining of your colon cause colon cancer to form. Precancerous polyps can be found and removed using screening tests and therapies available to healthcare professionals. Colon cancer can spread to other parts of your body if it is not treated. Fewer individuals are passing away from colon cancer as a result of these tests, early diagnosis, and innovative types of therapy. The lengthy tube that assists in moving digested food to your rectum and out of your body, the colon (large intestine), is where colon (colorectal) cancer first appears.  Layers of mucous membrane, tissue, and muscle make up your intestinal wall. The mucosa, or innermost lining of your colon, is where colon cancer first develops. It is made up of cells that produce and secrete fluids, including mucus. These cells have the potential to alter or mutate and become a colon polyp. Colon polyps might develop into cancer in the future. (A colon polyp develops cancer after around 10 years, on average.) The cancer spreads through a layer of tissue, muscle, and the outer layer of your colon if it is not discovered and/or treated. Your lymph nodes or blood arteries may allow the colon cancer to spread to other places in your body.


Colon cancer can exist without showing any signs of it. Even if you experience symptoms, you might not be able to tell if physical changes are indications of colon cancer. This is true because certain colon cancer symptoms are also present in other, less dangerous diseases. The following are typical signs of colon cancer:

  • Constipation, diarrhea, or a change in the stool's consistency that lasts for a long time are examples of persistent changes in bowel habits.
  • Bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stools
  • Ongoing abdominal discomfort that includes cramps, gas, or pain
  • A sensation that your bowels aren't totally emptied
  • Weakness or exhaustion
  • Unaccounted-for weight loss

Early on in the illness, colon cancer is often symptomless in many patients. Depending on the size and location of the cancer in your large intestine, symptoms may differ when they do.


Most colon cancers are unknown causes, according to doctors. Colon cancer often starts when normal colonic cells experience DNA abnormalities (mutations). A collection of instructions that inform a cell what to perform may be found in its DNA. Your body's healthy cells divide and develop in an organized fashion to maintain regular physiological function. However, when a cell's DNA is harmed and it becomes cancerous, it continues to divide even when new cells are not required. A tumor is created when the cells assemble. The cancer cells may spread over time and engulf neighboring healthy tissue, causing it to be destroyed. Additionally, malignant cells have the ability to spread to other areas of the body and deposit there (metastasize).

  • Age: Colorectal cancer is more common in older adults, with the majority of cases occurring after the age of 50.
  • Family history: Having a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, with colorectal cancer increases the risk.
  • Personal history of polyps or colorectal cancer: Previous cases of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps called adenomas can increase the risk.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Chronic conditions like ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease can increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Certain inherited genetic conditions: Conditions like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer) can significantly increase the risk.


Diagnosing colorectal cancer typically involves several steps, including:

  • Screening tests: These tests, such as colonoscopy, are used to detect polyps or abnormal growths in the colon or rectum that could be precursors to cancer.
  • Biopsy: If suspicious growths are found, a small sample of tissue is taken for examination under a microscope to determine if cancer is present.
  • Imaging tests: Additional tests like CT scans, MRI, or PET scans may be used to determine the extent of cancer and check if it has spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment for colorectal cancer depends on the stage of the disease and other individual factors. It may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of these approaches. The goal of treatment is to remove the cancer, prevent its recurrence, or manage symptoms in advanced cases.


The ideal course of action for treating colorectal cancer relies on a number of variables. These consist of:

  • the size and location of tumors and the cancer’s stage
  • Whether the cancer is recurrent
  • the person’s overall health

Surgery, radiation treatment, and chemotherapy are available options. Palliative care can also enhance quality of life while managing symptoms like pain.

For colorectal cancer that just affects the colon, surgery is the main course of therapy. In order to stop the disease from spreading, it removes malignant tissue, including tumors and damaged lymph nodes.

After removing malignant tissue, the surgeon often reconnects the intestine, although they might need to make a stoma for drainage into a colostomy bag. Usually, this is just transitory.

Early-stage cancer may be completely eradicated with surgery. Surgery cannot stop the cancer from progressing in its advanced stages, although clearing a blockage can assist with symptoms.

An extensive incision may be required during open surgery for colon cancer. It may be a laparoscopic procedure instead, which calls for very small incisions and is less intrusive. During surgery, the surgeon frequently employs robotic technology.


While it may not be possible to prevent colorectal cancer entirely, certain lifestyle changes and screenings can help reduce the risk or detect the disease at an early stage:

  • Regular screenings: Recommended screening tests include colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and stool tests like fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical tests (FIT).
  • Healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in red and processed meats can lower the risk.
  • Physical activity: Regular exercise is associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid tobacco use.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

It's important to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance regarding screening and preventive measures based on individual risk factors. Healthcare professionals are now better equipped to detect and treat colon cancer before it spreads and produces symptoms because more patients are scheduling colon cancer screenings. More than 90% of those treated for early-stage colon cancer were still living five years after diagnosis, according to recent statistics on survival rates. Newer cancer-focused medicines help people with colon cancer as well. Ask your doctor whether there are any newer therapies that could be suitable for you if you have colon cancer.

Category: Colorectal Cancer
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