Colorectal cancer is the second-highest cause of cancer-related deaths among women, behind breast cancer. Making up the longest part of the digestive tract, or the large intestine, the colon draws nutrients and water from food that has passed through the small bowel. The end segment of the large intestine is known as the rectum. At times, polyps, or small growths of cells, arise within the innermost surface of the colon or rectum. These growths typically present few to no symptoms; however, polyps can grow into colorectal cancer. Given that they are highly similar, colon and rectal cancer are generally grouped together.
Regular colorectal cancer screenings can catch evidence of colon and rectal cancer early and substantially improve a patient’s treatment outcomes. You can set up a colonoscopy procedure and other colon and rectal cancer screenings at GI Alliance. If you’re looking for a skilled gastrointestinal (GI) doctor near you, contact a GI Alliance location in your community to help protect your health against colon cancer and other gastric diseases.
What are the symptoms of colon and rectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer begins in the colon or rectum. A large number of people having colon or rectal cancer will show no symptoms in the cancer’s early stages. Those who do experience indications might notice one or more of the following:
- Persistent abdominal cramping or discomfort
- Blood in stool or bleeding from the rectum
- Unexplained loss of weight
- A difference in bowel movements
In the event that you or a family member is experiencing one or more of these indications, get in touch with GI Alliance today to speak with an experienced gastroenterologist.
If a cancerous growth invades the outside wall of the large bowel, it can infiltrate the circulatory or lymph system and move to other regions of the body. Patients whose colon or rectal cancer has spread beyond the colon and rectum have considerably lower survivability than those whose cancer remains within the local area, which is why early diagnosis and medical intervention are key.
What are common risk factors for colon cancer?
Though any person can get colorectal cancer, there are factors that can put some people at greater risk. Risk factors for colon and rectal cancer can include:
- Having a family history of colon cancer
- Alcohol use
- Being overweight
- A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
- Being over 50
- Use of tobacco products
People with any of these risk factors should undergo periodic screenings for colon cancer, such as a routine colonoscopy.
How is cancer of the colon or rectum detected?
Various techniques for colon cancer screening are available to individuals at risk for colon and rectal cancer. Such screening procedures include fecal tests, blood tests, and colonoscopy procedures. During a colonoscopy, a GI doctor places a flexible tube containing a camera through the colon and rectum to look for any indications of abnormal tissues, such as growths. When colon polyps are found during a colonoscopy, they can be removed at the time of the procedure and then biopsied to determine if cancer cells are present. After colon cancer has been detected, further tests can be performed to ascertain if the cancer has spread and to help physicians recommend the ideal treatment options.
How is colon cancer treated?
The method of treating colon cancer will depend on the location, size, and stage of the cancer and may include surgery, radiation treatment, or chemotherapy. Growths in the colon may take 10 –15 years to develop into cancer, which means if a growth is identified early, then it can often be removed before it turns malignant. In individuals who have localized colon cancer and received proper medical treatment, the five-year chance of survival is around 90%. Undergoing a colonoscopy on a periodic basis can save a person’s life; however, around a third of U.S. adults are not current on their colon cancer screenings.
Schedule a colonoscopy at GI Alliance
Give that colon or rectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women, it is a significant women’s health concern. However, it is treatable when diagnosed early and is easy to detect during a regular colonoscopy procedure. People who are over the age of 50 or who have other conditions that elevate their likelihood of colon cancer should book a routine colonoscopy screening. GI Alliance employs the most innovative technology and techniques to boost digestive health, and our team of skilled physicians provides care with a patient-centric mindset. To learn more about colon cancer or any additional digestive health issue, get in touch with a GI Alliance office near you.