Colorectal cancer is a cancer that starts in the colon or the rectum. These cancers can also be named colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they start. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because they have many features in common.
Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can spread to other areas of the body.
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
- Going to the toilet more often.
- A feeling that the bowel does not empty properly after a bowel movement.
- Blood in feces (stools).
- Pains in the abdomen.
- Bloating in the abdomen.
- A feeling of fullness in the abdomen (maybe even after not eating for a while).
- Fatigue (tiredness).
- Inexplicable weight loss.
- A lump in the tummy or a lump in the back passage felt by your doctor.
- Unexplained iron deficiency in men, or in women after the menopause.
- As most of these symptoms may also indicate other possible conditions, it is important that the patient sees a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Anybody who experiences some of these symptoms for four weeks should see their doctor.
Causes of colorectal cancer
Experts say we are not completely sure why colorectal cancer develops in some people and not in others. However, several risk factors have been identified over the years - a risk factor is something which may increase a person's chances of developing a disease or condition.
The possible risk factors for colorectal factors are:
- Being elderly - the older you are the higher the risk is.
- A diet that is very high in animal protein.
- A diet that is very high in saturated fats.
- A diet that is very low in dietary fiber.
- A diet that is very high in calories.
- A diet that is very high in alcohol consumption.
- Women who have had breast, ovary and uterus cancers.
- A family history of colorectal cancer.
- Patients with ulcerative colitis.
- Being overweight/obese.
- Smoking. This study found that smoking is significantly associated with an increased risk for colorectal cancer and death.
- Being physically inactive.
- Presence of polyps in the colon/rectum. Untreated polyps may eventually become cancerous.
- Having Crohn's disease or Irritable Bowel Disease have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.