What’s the Basics of Colorectal Cancer?

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer, also called colon cancer, refers to the cancer develops in the large intestine (colon). Colorectal cancer often develops from small clumps (adenomatous polyps) in the large intestine. These clumps may be noncancerous at first, but they may cause colorectal cancer over time.

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

Symptoms of colorectal cancer vary from person to person. At early stage, some people don’t have any symptoms, but symptoms will start to appear over time. Typically, the common signs and symptoms may include:

  • Blood in the stool.
  • Fatigue.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent pain, cramps or gas in abdomen.
  • A change in bowel movements, such as diarrhea, constipation or a change in the thickness of the stool, and these symptoms last 4 weeks or more.

What causes colorectal cancer?

The cause of colorectal cancer is not clear, but doctors find some factors that may increase the risk of colorectal cancer. These risk factors include:

  • A family history of colorectal cancer.
  • A high-fat, low-fiber diet.
  • Smoking.
  • Alcohol.
  • Diabetes.
  • Overweight.
  • A sedentary lifestyle.
  • African-American race.
  • Radiation therapy for cancer.
  • Inflammatory intestinal conditions.
  • Older age (most people with colorectal cancer are older than 50).

How to diagnose colorectal cancer?

In order to diagnose colorectal cancer, you may take following tests:

  • Screening tests (for people don’t have any symptoms).
  • Colonoscopy, insert a tube into your colon and examine it (for people have certain signs and symptoms).
  • Blood tests (for people have certain signs and symptoms).
  • Imaging tests, such as abdominal, pelvic and chest CT scans (for people who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer to determine the stage of the cancer).

What is the treatment for colorectal cancer?

The treatments for colorectal cancer should be determined according to your overall health, the stage of cancer and your preference. In general, the common treatments include:

  • Surgery for early-stage colorectal cancer
    Removing polyps through a colonoscopy.
    Endoscopic mucosal resection.
    Minimally invasive surgery.
  • Surgery for invasive colorectal cancer
    Partial colectomy.
    Lymph node removal.
    Surgery to create a new way for waste to leave your body.
  • Surgery for advanced colorectal cancer
    Surgery to relieve a blockage of your colon.
    Surgery to remove the cancerous lesion from your liver (if the cancer cells have spread to the liver).
  • Chemotherapy, uses drugs to kill cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy, uses high-energy sources to kill cancer cells or shrink large tumors.
  • Immunotherapy, use drugs such as pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo) to help your immune system recognize and attack cancer cells.
  • Targeted drug therapy, use drugs to target specific malfunctions. The common target drugs include:
    Bevacizumab (Avastin)
    Cetuximab (Erbitux)
    Panitumumab (Vectibix)
    Ramucirumab (Cyramza)
    Regorafenib (Stivarga)
    Ziv-aflibercept (Zaltrap)

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.