Colorectal cancer

From ArticleWorld

Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, is cancer in the colon, rectum, and appendix, and is one of the most common and deadly of all cancers. Many colorectal cancers come from polyps in the colon, most of which are benign. Some of these polyps become cancerous, however. Colonoscopy is the best way of diagnosing colorectal cancer at the present time. Surgery and chemotherapy are usual treatments for this cancer.

Symptoms and risk factors

Symptoms of colorectal cancer can be changes in bowel habits or stool consistency, blood in stools, and sometimes even bowel obstruction. Patients with colorectal cancer may also have anemia, weight loss, and enlargement of the liver.

Risk factors for increasing the chance of getting colorectal cancer are age, history of cancer, heredity, ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, smoking, diet, lack of exercise, and viruses. People over the age of 60 are more likely to get colorectal cancer, as are those with a family history of cancer.

Diagnosis and treatment

Colorectal cancer takes years to grow, so early detection is important. Screenings for colon cancer can be done by digital rectal exam, fecal occult blood test, and by colonoscopy. One of the advantages of a colonoscopy is that polyps can be immediately removed when found. More tests for colorectal cancer include double contrast barium enema, virtual colonoscopy, Standard computer axial tomography, blood tests, genetic counseling, and positron emission tomography.

Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer. Colorectal cancers that are found early are much more successfully treated than those that are caught later are. Surgery is the preferred mode of treatment. Chemotherapy and/or radiation can also be used as treatments. Frequently only the cancerous part of the colon is removed. Sometimes laparoscopic surgery is used, making the incision site much smaller, and reducing the chances of infection.

Early stage colorectal cancer patients have 5 times more chance of survival than does their late stage counterparts. Scientists believe that lifestyle change, better and earlier detection and dietary cancer preventives should be able to prevent most cancers.