Colorectal Cancer

COLORECTAL CANCER magnified

Last Updated December 20th, 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?

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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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Easy steps on how to do the plank for the perfect abs The plank exercise helps in several ways like strengthening your abs, shoulders, back and glutes. Plank can also…
Bone marrow aspiration Bone marrow aspiration is a process where a sample of the bone marrow is withdrawn from the bone…
smelling-salts-benefits
The actual science behind smelling salts and how it helps in injury recovery Most smelling salts are a mixture of ammonium carbonate and some perfumes which are sniffed by an individual…
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…
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…
Sputum test Sputum test is a commonly used diagnostic tool that is used to examine the presence of pathogens in…
piles
Best treatment for piles in Bangalore All you need to know about piles and piles treatment in Bangalore - the types of treatment available,…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
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…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
free thyroxine ft4
Free thyroxine test (FT4) The FT4 or free thyroxine test is used to detect the level of free thyroxine of FT4 thyroid…
18 instant steps to make your jogging routine more powerful Jogging is a form of Aerobic Endurance training which includes running at a slow pace. Jogging is slower…
Cayenne: The remarkable benefits of these red hot chili peppers These may make you rush for a glass of water, but cayenne pepper is actually a healthy additive…
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.…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
hYdroxycut pills
Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
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…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
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…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
CT-scan-machine
CT – Computed Tomography Scan CT scan or computed tomography scan is an diagnostic imaging technique where cross-sectional images of body are obtained…
kidney stones
Kidney stones Kidney stones are solid substances made up of crystals. They can be of various sizes. Treatment depend on…
Trisodium Phosphate: How a paint thinner made its way into your breakfast Ever thought how toxic chemicals find their way into our foods? How can they harm our body? And…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
lp-pla2
LP-PLA2 Test The LP-PLA2 test is a test which is carried out to assess the levels of Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
beta hcg test
Beta hCG Test A Beta hCG test measures the level of human gonadotropin hormones present in the blood that is primarliy…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
Chlorella: Therapeutic powers of the billion-year-old algae now within your reach Chlorella - A billion year old nutrient-rich algae that can potentially ward off cancers and high cholesterol; the…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
Exercises or diet? Find out the healthiest way to gain weight Tired of being called skinny all the time? Looking for healthy ways to beef up? Why not try…
blood elements analysis
Vitamin Profile Your doctor will recommend you undergo the vitamin profile test if you are showing signs of either vitamin…
woman with abdominal pain holding ovulation calendar
Ovulation – facts to know about ovulation Learn how and when ovulation occurs, demystify common misconceptions, identify symptoms, methods of detection and right period for…
beta 2 glycoprotein 1 igm
Beta 2 Glycoprotein 1 IgM The Beta 2 glycoprotein 1 IgM test detects IgM class of antibodies in the blood.The presence of beta-2…
beta alanine energy powder
Beta-alanine: A powerhouse of proteins to charge up your workout How can a simple amino acid be a crucial health supplement for champion athletes? Find out how you…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
Low fat diets
A complete list of low-fat diets and how to follow them Low-fat diets help you lose weight in a healthy way, but it works only with regular exercise and…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
anti-chlamydia antibody tets
Anti-Chlamydia Antibody -IgG Test Anti-Chlamydia Antibody - IgG test is performed by collection of urine or genital fluids as sample for testing…
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…
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…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
Bloodtestalbumin
Albumin Test Albumin test or blood serum test is a liver function test that measures the amount of the protein…
GERD heartburn
Heartburn: What are the exact symptoms and the best home remedies? There are easy home remedies for heartburn, which not only acts as a first aid when you experience…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
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…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
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…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…

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