Colorectal Cancer – symptoms, diagnosis and lifestyle modifications to avoid its development

Article written by :drSibnath
Dr Sibnath Mondal
MS (Cal), MRCS (Edin), AFRCS (Ire), FRCS (UK), CCST in General Surgery
Consultant General, Gastro & Laparoscopic Surgeon

The human body comprises of various complex systems which work/function together and help in living a healthy life. All the systems of our body hold individual importance. Non-functioning of any of these systems leads to various types of health problems. There are various severe diseases or ailments, of which, one of the most dreadful is “Cancer”. We often think that cancer is the end of life, however with the advancement of medical science, now this dreaded disease is very much curable through different procedures.

There are various types of cancer which may occur in different part of the body. Here we will discuss about a very common cancer which is seen to occur in the final part of the digestive tract – “The Colon.” Colon cancer is a type of cancer which begins in the large intestine. This cancer is most often seen in the aged adults; however it can affect anyone of any age group. In the early stage, it generally begins as a small, noncancerous (benign) lump of cells called polyps which form on the inside of the colon. Over time, some of these polyps may form colon cancers. Colon cancers are sometimes termed as colorectal cancers, which is a term that combines colon cancer and rectal cancer and it is seen to begin in the rectum.  The symptoms which we need to look out for are:

  • Persistent change in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation. There may be a change in the consistency of passing of stool.
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort – cramps, gas or pain.
  • A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Weakness & fatigue.

If you feel any of these symptoms and have a family history of colorectal cancer, and you are in the age group of 50 or above, please visit your consultant and opt for screening tests. There are various screening tests which can help in detecting colorectal cancers, of which a few are mentioned below:

  • Stool tests
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • CT scan & MRI

Lifestyle changes can help in prevention of colorectal cancers.

  • Keep a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your daily diet.
  • Smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol must be stopped.
  • Exercise at least 40 to 60 minutes daily.
  • Maintain a healthy weight to stay fit. Check your BMI (Body Mass Index).

Following the above lifestyle will help you to live a healthy life. And if you notice any symptoms, please do not sit back at home and panic. Visit your doctor for getting yourself screened and rule out chances of developing cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment is very important for treating any ailment/health issue. Lastly, would also suggest everyone to eat a healthy diet and get engaged in physical activities to stay fit and to avoid developing any complex health problems.

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