Colorectal Cancer

COLORECTAL CANCER magnified

Last Updated June 13th, 2021

Overview

Cancers can arise in practically any part of the body when cells begin to grow out of control. Cancer appearing in the terminal portions of the gastrointestinal tract is known as colorectal cancer. In other words, this is cancer of the colon or the rectum. ‘Colon’ is another name for the large intestine and its main function is to absorb water and minerals from solid wastes as they pass through it. It is a muscular tube between 5 to 6 feet long.

Anatomically it is divided into a number of sections. These sections are the caecum, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon and sigmoid colon. Finally, the colon is succeeded by the rectum and the anal canal. Solid waste is stored in the rectum until it can be eliminated through the anus. Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and it can take varied forms.

Definition

COLORECTAL CANCER locationColorectal cancer is a broad term for any cancer that originates in the large intestine or the rectum.

Depending on the specific location, the disease may be known either as colon cancer (bowel cancer) or rectal cancer.

Usually, it begins in the form of a benign growth in the inner mucosal lining of the colorectal region.

From here, it can invade the other layers and even the muscular wall of the organ.

Following this, it can extend into blood vessels or lymphatic channels. Once this takes place, it is possible for cancer to spread or metastasize to other parts of the body.

Causes

The colon and rectum are both composed of multiple layers of tissue. The innermost layer is known as the mucosa and the thin muscular component of this is known as the muscularis mucosa. Next comes a fibrous layer called the submucosa. This is surrounded by a thick layer of muscle known as the muscularis propria. Finally, the colon (but not the rectum) is sheathed by the subserosa and serosa which are composed of connective tissue.

Usually, cancer first arises in the innermost layer or the mucosa. Sometimes, pre-cancerous changes, or dysplasia, are observed in the cells of this area. This can eventually give rise to cancer. Otherwise, cancer may have its origin in a form of abnormal growth called a polyp. Polyps can be of different types and they do not all necessarily have the tendency to transform into a malignant state. Adenomatous polyps, for instance, are known to turn cancerous. However, the more common hyperplastic polyp is less likely to do so. Often, the origin of colorectal cancer can be linked to age or lifestyle factors. Genetic factors also have a role to play.

COLORECTAL CANCER magnifiedRisk factors include:

  • Being obese or overweight.
  • Being male is associated with a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Having a family history of colorectal cancer.
  • Being older than 60 years of age is associated with a heightened risk.
  • Having had breast cancer is also linked with an increased likelihood of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Diet that is high in fat and deficient in fiber. Eating a lot of red meats or processed meats is also a risk factor.
  • Alcohol abuse.
  • Smoking.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Having inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
  • Having hereditary diseases such as familial adenomatous polyposis.

Symptoms 

In the initial stages of the disease, the patient may not experience noticeable symptoms. Possible signs and indications include:

  • Bleeding from the rectum.
  • Blood in the stools or darkened stools.
  • Pain in the abdominal area or the rectal area.
  • Changes in normal bowel habits. The patient may have persistent diarrhea or constipation.
  • Excessive Flatulence.
  • Weight loss.
  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.

Types of Colorectal Cancer

The following are the various recognized types of colorectal cancer:

  • Adenocarcinoma: This is by far the most common type, accounting for as much as 95% of diagnosed cases. This form originates in the cells of intestinal glands.
  • Primary colorectal lymphoma: This is a rather rare type and tends to arise in the caecum. It is a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In other words, it arises in the lymphatic system and affects lymphocyte cells. Men are affected twice as often as women.
  • Gastrointestinal carcinoid tumor: The neuroendocrine cells of the gastrointestinal tract regulate the secretion of digestive juices and also control the passage of food through the organs. Such cells share the features of both neurons and endocrine cells. This form of cancer affects the neuroendocrine cells of the colorectal region by causing the formation of tumors. The tumors, like the cells they have originated from, are also known to secrete hormone-like substances although this may not always be in quantities capable of causing significant symptoms. This type of cancer accounts for only about 1% of colorectal malignancies. It is a slow-growing type.
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor: This form of cancer originates in a certain type of cell belonging to the autonomic nervous system. These cells are responsible for providing the electrical impulses that cause the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract to contract and relax. This is a form of sarcoma or cancer that arises in the connective tissue.
  • Melanoma: This type of cancer arises in certain types of pigment-forming cells known as melanocytes. Usually, such cells are present in the skin but they are also found in other areas including the mucosal tissues of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Leiomyosarcoma: This rare form is associated with a high likelihood of metastasis. Hence, early detection and commencement of treatment ensure a better outlook. This tends to affect the connective tissues, particularly the smooth muscles. Leiomyosarcoma only constitutes about 0.1% of colorectal cancers.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: This form of cancer arises in the squamous cells present in the lining of the bowels. This is a highly uncommon cancer.

Cancer Grading and Stages

COLORECTAL CANCERThe severity of colorectal cancer is graded on a scale of 1 to 4 depending on the extent to which the malignant cells differ from normal tissue. G1 indicates that the cancer cells closely resemble healthy tissue. G4, at the other extreme of the scale, indicates that the cancer cells show highly abnormal features. Grades 1 and 2 are considered the lower grades while 3 and 4 are considered high grades.

Combining this information with the cancer stage helps determine treatment approaches and overall outlook. The TNM system developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer is a scheme commonly used to determine the stage of colorectal cancer. The criteria for this include the degree of invasion of various layers of the colorectal area, whether cancer has extended locally in the area and whether it has spread to more distant parts of the body. This information is obtained by collating the results of imaging tests and biopsies as well as the findings of any surgeries that may have been conducted.

Clinical Complications

The list below outlines some complications associated with colorectal cancer:

  • The cancer can spread to distant organs and tissues within the body. This makes it especially difficult to treat and shortens life expectancy.
  • The formation of scar tissue can create obstructions in the bowels or rectum.
  • The cancer can recur even after treatment.
  • Colorectal cancer can be a terminal illness. In other words, it is capable of being fatal.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing colorectal cancer involves the following procedures:

  • Physical examination of the patient may reveal a mass in the abdominal area.
  • Complete blood count test to check for anemia.
  • Fecal occult blood test detects the presence of blood in the stools.
  • Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy involves the insertion of a flexible tube tipped with a camera. This is an effective test for detecting cancer in the colon or rectum.
  • Diagnostic imaging helps assess the condition of the bowels or rectum and determine the extent of spread of the cancer. This can also help reveal the extent of damage to other organs. Involvement of distant organs such as the brain may be revealed by imaging methods such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT).
  • A sample of affected tissue is examined beneath a microscope in order to determine the specific type of cancer.
  • Assessing the grade and stage of the cancer.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment of colorectal cancer:

  • Surgery: This includes removing the cancer cells and some surrounding tissues as well. Other surgical methods include laparoscopy surgery, colostomy if cancer has spread to the rectum, and radiofrequency ablation (Cryoablation).
  • Radiation Therapy: This includes the use of high energy gamma rays pinpointed at the cancer cells to destroy them.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs such as Fluorouracil or Capecitabine is directly supplied into the bloodstream which travels to the site of cancer cells and destroys them.

Low FODMAP diet for colon cancer

FODMAPs are a group of fermentable carbohydrates. They are known to cause many problems such as gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Studies show that restricted low consumption of FODMAPs drastically reduces the symptoms mentioned above.

FODMAP stands for

  • F – Fermentable.
  • O – Oligosaccharides. Dietary sources of oligosaccharide are wheat, rye, legumes, pulses, and various sources of fruits and vegetables.
  • D – Disaccharides. Dietary source of disaccharides is milk, yyogurt and soft cheese.
  • M – Monosaccharides. Dietary sources of monosaccharide are honey, agave nectar, and various sources of fruits and vegetables.
  • A – and
  • P – Polysaccharides. Dietary sources of polysaccharides are various sources of fruits and vegetables, and certain sweeteners such as sugar-free gum.

A typical Western diet is rich in red meat such as chorizo, dairy products such as buttermilk, custard, gelato, kefir etc. It also includes processed and artificially sweetened foods such as sausages, pasta, pastries, muffins, cakes etc. These foods come under the category of a high FODMAP diet and may increase the chances of developing colon cancer. A low FODMAP diet can be prescribed to reduce the symptoms of colon cancer. A low FODMAP diet consists of an increased intake of whole grains such as buckwheat, corn, millets etc. Dairy products such as butter, margarine, sorbet etc and meat such as beef, lamb, chicken etc. may increase the risk of colon cancer.

Following a low FODMAP diet consisting of whole grains and dietary fibers makes the gut healthier. Consuming dairy products up to 400g per day reduces the chances of developing colon cancer. Limiting red meat consumption to 500g per week can reduce the chances of developing colon cancer.

Prevention of colorectal cancer:

  • Consume a low-fat, high-fiber diet that includes at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Avoid red meat, processed meats, and cured meats.
  • If you are above 40, it is advised to go for full body check-ups and get regularly screened for colorectal cancer (especially if you have a family history or other risk- factors).
  • Refrain from unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol.
  • Add calcium, vitamin D, and folate supplements.
  • Exercise often and make sure that you have a healthy BMI.

TL;DR?

Facts

  • Colorectal cancer is one of the most widespread cancers in the USA, with as many as 135,430 cases diagnosed in the year 2017 alone.
  • One out of every 22 men will be detected with colorectal cancer. In women, this ratio is 1 in 24.

Facts

  • Regular screening can help in preventing 33% of deaths due to colorectal cancer in the USA. Experts believe that the 5 year survival rate can be made 90% with early detection.
  • Obesity increases the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer by 30%. It also diminishes the chances of a swift and healthy recovery.

Facts

  • If you suffer from any one of these conditions – Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease, IBD, or Lynch Syndrome, you are more likely to suffer from colorectal cancer.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, it is advisable that you maintain a detailed record of your health. This includes medications and the onset of symptoms.
  • Choose low-fat foods and also limit your carbohydrate intake.
  • Wear adult diapers, pads, or panty liners if you are experiencing frequent diarrhea post chemo sessions.
Don'ts
  • Consume meats. Especially, one must refrain from eating cured and processed meats.
  • Lead a sedentary life. Go for walks as it will build up your immunity and prevent cancer from coming back.
  • Add stress or anxiety in your life. Practice meditation, join a support group and indulge in your favorite hobbies that will help you relax.

 

 

 

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7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
Experts reveal the safest ways to perform an enema at home The idea of pushing some up your rectal area might make you queasy but an enema could actually…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
Bronchoscopy procedure
Bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy is a procedure where in a scope is inserted into the lung pathway to observe any growth…
ANTI-MICROSOMAL-ANTIBODY-(AMA)
Anti-Microsomal Antibody AMA Test AMA or anti-microsomal antibody test is a blood test that measures the activity of AMA in the body…
Hysteroscopy_procedure
Hysteroscopy Hysteroscopy is a minimally invasive tool to help specialists view the uterus to diagnose and even treat several…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
xylitol gum
Xylitol : Is this the right sugar substitute for you? Discovered during World War 2 owing to sugar shortage, xylitol has become a common name in pharamaceutical industry.…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
Oxidative Stress: Understanding the most lethal phenomenon happening in your body right now Free radicals cause damage to the body, which is known as oxidation.  The amount of oxidation caused by…
Tissue Transglutaminase Antibody (tTG) Test Transglutaminase is an enzyme present in our body and is involved in protein metabolism. A tTg test is…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
The right way to prepare Alfalfa sprouts at home Alfalfa or lusan ghas is not just a nutritious animal fodder. This flavonoid-rich herb has some amazing health…
Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another person or you…
11 unbelievable health benefits of thyme you didn’t know! Thyme is a herb that has been used in alternative medicine.It is a well known seasoning in the…
hepatitis B envelope antigen
Hepatitis B Envelope Antigen (HBeAg) The HBeAg or hepatitis B envelope antigen test is a screening test used to diagnose the onset of…
dhea adrenal
Androstenedione Test Androstenedione is produced by the adrenal gland, the test of the levels of Androstenedione helps in the evaluation…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
Tattoo Aftercare: The best practices to follow once you get inked Planning getting permanently inked? Make sure you follow these critical tattoo aftercare techniques to avoid infectious agents attacking…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
immunoglobulin M
Immunoglobulin M Test Immunoglobulin M is the largest and the first produced antibody which helps in the prevention or fighting of…
shoudler exercises
Keep your shoulders pain-free with these shoulder exercises Shoulder exercises are important in order to prevent chronic back and neck pain. Learn more about how you…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Beware of these common foods that cause high bodily inflammation! Maybe its the long list of inflammatory foods in your diet that is making you frequently sick. Find…
The complete “what to eat” guide for gluten intolerance Does eating breads and pastas often makes you nauseous? Gluten intolerance is a common reason why you might…
Hibiscus: Nourish your beauty and health with these vibrant blooms Hibiscus is a trumpet shaped flower found abundantly in tropical countries. It has been historically used for its…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
bradycardia fainting
What does hypoglycemia look like when you don’t have diabetes? Hypoglycemia is not just a disease that co-occurs with diabetes. Non-diabetics could also become hypoglycemic. Hypoglycemia can be…
Internal bleeding brain
Beware: Ignoring these tell-tale signs of stroke could cost a life The signs and symptoms of a stroke differ depending on which part of the brain has been affected.…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
Tachycardia heart
Cardiac Profile Cardiac profile is panel of blood tests performed to check cholesterol level and other heart disease markers to…
iron deficiency profile
Iron Deficiency Profile An iron deficiency profile is a battery of blood tests which are performed in order to determine the…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…