Are You At Risk With Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer, also called large bowel cancer, is the term used to describe malignant tumors found in the colon and rectum.In the United States, about 160,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed each year. It is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.The average age of diagnosis of cancer in patients with this syndrome is 44 years old, as compared to 64 years old in people without the syndrome. Two-thirds of these cancers occur in the proximal colon.In colon cancer patients, pathologists can measure microsatellite instability in colon tumor specimens, which is a surrogate marker for DNA mismatch repair gene dysfunction.To know if you are at risk to colorectal cancer, you must know what are the causes, risk factors and symptoms associated with this cancer.However, I have known there is no single cause for colon cancer. Nearly all colon cancers begin as benign polyps, which slowly develop into cancer.But you have a higher risk for colon cancer if you have: Colorectal polyps Cancer elsewhere in the body, a family history of colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, personal history of breast cancer.Certain genetic syndromes also increase the risk of developing colon cancer. What you eat may play a role in your risk of colon cancer.Colon cancer may be associated with a high-fat, low-fiber diet and red meat. Colon and rectum cancer often causes no symptoms, especially at first.SymptomsThe following symptoms, however, may indicate colon cancer: Diarrhea, constipation, or other change in bowel habits, blood in the stool, unexplained anemia, abdominal pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen. It may also include intestinal obstruction, weight loss with no known reason, narrow stools.DiagnosisWith proper screening, colon cancer can be detected BEFORE the development of symptoms, when it is most curable.A rectal exam may reveal a mass in patients with rectal cancer, but not colon cancer. Imaging tests to diagnose colorectal cancer include: Colonoscopy and Sigmoidoscopy.If your doctor learns that you do have colorectal cancer, additional tests will be done to see if the cancer has spread.Stages¨ Stage 0: Very early cancer on the innermost layer of the intestine Stage I: Cancer is in the inner layers of the colon¨ Stage II: Cancer has spread through the muscle wall of the colon¨ Stage III: Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes¨ Stage IV: Cancer that has spread to other organs.Treatment depends partly on the stage of the cancer. In general, treatments may include: Chemotherapy medicines to kill cancer cells; Surgery to remove cancer cells; Radiation therapy to destroy cancerous tissue.Stage 0 colon cancer may be treated by removing the cancer cells, often during a colonoscopy; Stage II to stage IV colon cancer should receive chemotherapy after surgery and this may include cutting out the cancer, burning it (ablation), or freezing it (cryotherapy); Stages I, II, and III cancer are considered potentially curable but in most cases, stage IV cancer is not curable.PreventionSome evidence suggests that low-fat and high-fiber diets may reduce your risk of colon cancer. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against taking aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medicines to prevent colon cancer if you have an average risk of the disease — even if someone in your family has had the condition.Although low-dose aspirin may help reduce your risk of other conditions, such as heart disease, it does not lower the rate of colon cancer.