COLORECTAL CANCER – a reason for worry

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colorectal cancer

The world today has woken up towards health and immunity. Covid-19 has sent a message to everyone today in the true sense ‘Health is Wealth’. While introspecting one’s self, people have found that their lifestyles and eating habits are also causing many other diseases. Colorectal cancer (CRC) which is also known as bowel cancer or colon cancer is one of the major concerns. 

As per the statistics, more than 50000 people suffer from colorectal cancer every year. This number is going high every year. As per medical science, the main reason has been attributed to alcohol, red meat, consumption of tobacco, and lack of physical activity ( www.h2fcare.com/what-to-eat-to-recoup-from-covid-19 )

Colon and Rectum The gastrointestinal tract is also known as the GI tract is part of the digestive system. Also known as large intestines, the colon starts from this point. These muscular tubes are about 5 feet in length. The parts of the colon depend on the direction of travel of food inside them. Ascending colon, traverse colon, descending colon and sigmoid colon are the names of the sub-parts of large intestines. The rectum is an approximately 6-inch tube where the waste is stored until it passes through the anus. The anus does not allow the stool to come out till the ring muscles surrounding the anus relax. Working of colon and rectum Small intestines are mainly utilized by the body to absorb all nutrients. However, when food reaches large intestines, it still contains water and salt. After the absorption takes place, the colon pushes the waste into the rectum. By releasing the muscles around the anus and creating favorable bowel movement, the body excretes the stool.

Starting of colorectal cancer

The waste material remains inside the colon and rectum for some time. This gives rise to an interaction between the inner lining of the colon or rectum and waste waiting to be excreted. Unwanted growth of tissue takes place which is called polyps. All polyps are not cancerous. It depends on the type and location. Adenomatous polyps are which are cancerous. Sessile serrated polyps (SSP) and transitional serrated adenomas (TSA) are a matter of concern as individuals having them are at high risk of colorectal cancer.

What can colorectal cancer do!

As mentioned above, it starts from the inner layer of the colon and rectum. However as it starts to grow, it can reach other layers. As the growth increases, the polyps causing cancer travel to nearby lymph nodes and reach our circulation system. From there it can reach other organ systems. 

Growth can also occur in the free space available as the colon and rectum are tubes. Once growth reaches a significant size, it can stop the passage of waste which leads to extreme complications. 

Stages of the cancer are related to the growth of the cancerous tissue. As it grows deeper into the layers, it becomes difficult to remove the malignant cells. There have been cases of metastases reported in many cases who initially underwent successful treatment.

Symptoms of the cancer 

There are three main symptoms which are reduction or change in bowel movement, presence of blood in stool, lower abdominal pain which appears to be traveling to the complete area of the abdominal. Besides these one can face a situation of frequent loose stools, weight loss, a feeling of fullness, and no desire to have food at all. 

What causes it!

  1. Age is one of the factors. Mostly this occurs in people aged 60 and above.
  2. Low fiber food, processed meat, and food high in unsaturated fats are at greater risk
  3. Obesity and excessive eating is also a major cause.
  4. A sedentary lifestyle lacking physical activity is one of the major reasons. WHO recommends that 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week is a must ( www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity ).
  5. Alcohol, smoking, and tobacco consumption are also some of the largest contributing factors. Chances of getting colon cancer in these cases increase by 67%.
  6. As cancer can be caused due to genes, one must be cautious if there is a family history.

Treatment

An early deduction is a key to survival. However, in most cases, it has been found that cancer is discovered only once it reaches inside the inner layers and starts causing other symptoms. Regular screening of the colon and rectum is generally not done as a medical routine in healthy individuals. This causes a delay in discovery and hence subsequent treatment. 

Treatments are similar to other cancer treatments which may involve surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. A person may require one of these or all depending on stage and location. 

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