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What is cancer?
Cancer is actually a group of diseases that occur when cells in the body mutate and grow out of control. In most types of cancer, these cells form a mass or tumor. Cells from the tumor may break away and move to other parts of the body. This process of cancer spread is known as metastasis.

What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer is one, which affects either the colon (large intestine) or the rectum. Before cancer develops, early changes can often be seen in the lining of the last part of the colon (sigmoid colon) or the rectum. If colorectal cancer is found early enough, it can usually be cured by surgery.
What are causes of colorectal cancer?

Although the exact causes of colorectal cancer are not yet well defined but certain risk factors are involved. In general, these include:

Age: colorectal cancer is more likely to occur after age of 50, although it can occur at younger ages, sometimes even during the teenage years.

Lifestyle: diets high in fat and calories and low in fiber have been linked with   colorectal cancer. Lack of exercise also seems to play a role.

Polyps: These benign growths on the inner wall of colon and rectum are fairly common in people over the age of 50, and may increase the risk for colorectal cancer. A rare, inherited condition called familial polyposis causes hundreds of polyps to form in the colon and rectum.  Unless this disorder is treated, it will almost always lead to colorectal cancer.

Medical history: women who have had cancer of the ovary, uterus, or breast have a somewhat greater chance of development of colorectal cancer.

Family history:  parents, siblings, and children of people who have had colorectal cancer are somewhat more likely to have it themselves, especially if the relative had colorectal cancer at a young age. 

Ulcerative colitis:  this is a condition in which the lining of the colon becomes inflamed. Chances that colorectal cancer will occur are increased when this inflammation is present.  

What are the signs of colorectal cancer? 
Most colorectal cancers begin as a polyp. At first, a polyp is a small, harmless growth in the wall of the colon. However, as a polyp gets larger, it can develop into a cancer that grows and spreads. Removing the polyp early may prevent it from becoming cancerous. More than 95% of colorectal cancers belong to a type   called adenocarcinomas.

Warning signs:

  • Bleeding from your rectum
  • Blood in your stool or in the toilet after you have a bowel movement
  • A change in the shape of your stool
  • Cramping pain in your lower stomach
  • A feeling of discomfort or an urge to have a bowel movement when there is no need
  • A change in bowel habits
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
  • General abdominal discomfort, such as frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, or cramps
  • Weight loss with no known reason
  • Constant tiredness
  • Vomiting

Consult your doctor if you notice any of these. These symptomsmay be caused by colorectal cancer or by other conditions. It is important to check with you doctor.

Are there any screening tests for colorectal?
Today a number of screening tests are available which can be used to find cancers before they are large enough to cause any warning signs. Because finding cancer early means that you’re more likely to be cured, it is important for you to have appropriate screening tests. The following are some screening tests for colorectal cancer:

Digital rectal exam:  In this exam, your doctor puts his or her gloved finger into your rectum to find any growths. This exam is simple to do and is not painful. However, because this exam can find less than 10% of colorectal cancers, it must be used along with another screening test.

Fecal occult blood test:  In this test, your stool is checked for blood that you can’t see. If blood is found, another test is done to look for a polyp, a cancer or another cause of bleeding.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy: In this test, your doctor puts a thin, flexible, hollow tube with a light on the end into your rectum.  The tube is connected to a tiny video camera so the doctor can look at the rectum and the lower part of your colon.

This test can be a bit uncomfortable, but it lets your doctor see polyps   when they are very small (before they can be found with a fecal occult blood test). Because flexible sigmoidoscopymay miss cancerous polyps that are in the upper part of the colon, some doctors prefer a screening test called colonoscopy.

Colonoscopy: Before you have this test, you are given a medicine to make you feel relaxed and sleepy.  A thin, flexible tube connected to a video camera is put into your rectum, and the doctor looks at your whole colon. The tube can also be used to remove polyps and cancers during the exam. Colonoscopy may be uncomfortable, but it is usually not painful.

Double-contrast barium enema:  for this test, you are given an enema (injection of fluid into the rectum) with a liquid that makes your colon show up on an X-ray. Your doctor looks at the X-ray to find abnormal spots in your entire colon.
If you have an abnormal spot, you are examined by colonoscopy.

Who should be screened for colorectal cancer?
People who are 50 years of age and older. In addition, persons with the following risk factors should have a screening at an earlier age:

  • Have had colorectal cancer or large polyps in the past
  • Have a close relative (brother, sister, parent or child) who has had colorectal cancer before age 60
  • Have a hereditary colon cancer syndrome.

Individuals with these risk factors may need to be tested more often than a person who doesn’t have risk factor for colorectal cancer.

How often should one get tested?
For those without risk factors, any one of the following screening programs (with a digital rectal exam at each screening) may be used, beginning at 50 years of age:

  • Fecal occult blood testing every year
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
  • Fecal occult blood testing every year plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 year
  • Double-contrast barium enema every 5-10 years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years

Screening for cancer of the colon or rectum (colorectal cancer) should be regular part of physical examinations for everyone over age 50 andfor some younger people who have a family history of cancer. Early detection can save many lives each year.

Can colorectal cancer be treated?
Although many people may believe colorectal cancer is difficult to treat, it actually is one of the most curable cancers when detected at an early stage. Screening and surveillance procedures are crucial for identifying polyps early-before the polyps produce symptoms.
Treatment of colorectal cancer typically depends on the stage in which the colorectal polyps of cancer are found.

Can one lower the chances of developing colorectal cancer?
Yes, one can definitely lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Managing the risk factors that one can control, such as diet and physical activity can do this/
It is important to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods and to limit intake of high-fat foods.

What are the precautionary measures one can take to prevent colorectal cancer?

  • Maintain a diet low in animal fat and high in fiber
  • Exercise regularly
  • Prevent obesity
  • Avoid cigarette smoking
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

Physical activity is another area that people can control.
People should involve themselves in at least 30 minutes of physical activity on 5 or more days of the week.
If one participates in moderate or vigorous activity for 45 minutes on 5 or more days of the week you can lower your risk for breast and colorectal cancer even more.
If you are overweight, you can ask your doctor about a weight loss plan thatwill work for you.

What should an ideal diet contain to prevent colorectal cancer?
Food to choose:

  • Whole-grain breads and cereals
  • Baked products made with whole grains and limited amounts of fat and sugar
  • Carrots, apricots, tomatoes, spinach, tec.
  • Oranges, grapefruits, red and green peppers,  strawberries, broccoli etc.
  • Bananas, leafy green vegetables, leaf lettuce, asparagus etc.
  • Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage.
  • Skinless chicken
  • Low-fat processed meat.
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Dried beans, peas and lentils
  • Soya or vegetable-based meat alternatives
  • Boil or bake instead of frying
  • Use fruit, instead of butter and syrup, on pancakes and waffles.
  • Choose low-fat sweets.

 What are the harmful foods that should be limited?
Foods to limit:

  • Biscuits
  • Fried or greasy snacks
  • Vegetable prepared in sauces that contain fat
  • High-fat items such as coconut
  • Fried or deep-fried vegetables (potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini etc.)
  • Fried snacks (potato, chips sweet potato chips etc.)
  • Sour cream
  • Butter and margarine
  • Fried or deep-fried cheese
  • Regular cheeses
  • Ice cream
  • Cream
  • Chicken with skin
  • Fried or deep-fried meat, poultry and seafood
  • Greasy and or fried items
  • Desserts that are high in fat and sugar
  • Cola drinks

Cancer is curable if detected early
Check for any of the following symptoms

  • Change in bowel of bladder habits
  • A sore throat that does not heal
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge
  • Thickening or lump in breast or elsewhere
  • Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
  • Obvious change in wart or mole.
  • Nagging cough or hoarseness in voice
  • Significant weight loss

If you have one or more symptoms…
Please consult your physician or oncologist immediately

Colorectal CANCER Do

  • Get regular colorectal screenings, annual fecal occult tests for blood in the stool and / or sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, as recommended by your doctor.
  • Eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Drink plenty of liquids, especially water.
  • Do regular exercise.
  • Report unusual intestinal symptoms to your doctor for example, chronic diarrhea of constipation, blood in the stool, vomiting or persistent stomach discomfort.


  • Don’t drink alcohol excessively
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t overcook your foods ( but don’t undercook meats either)
  • Don’t put off getting a colorectal exam


Early detection is the best protection

Cancer has no boundaries of race or class


Consult your doctor-it’s never a better time that now


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