Colorectal cancer: why we should be alert?

This colorectal cancer nowadays increasing rapidly due to unhealthy diet, lifestyle and more reasons.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women. certain genetic factors play a role in the development of this cancer. The specific causes of colorectal cancer are unknown but environmental, genetic, familial factors and preexisting ulcerative Colitis has been linked to the development of this deadly disease.

It is more common in African-Americans.

Risk factors

1) Age- the average age is the time of diagnosis is between 60-68 years.

2) Family factors – family history of colorectal cancer increases the risk of developing this illness in first degree relatives.

3) Genetic factors – several genetic and inherited illnesses carry a very high risk of colorectal cancer.

4) Diet- high dietary fat and low dietary fibre can increase the risk of Ulcerative colitis.

Signs and symptoms

1) blood in stool

2) diarrhea

3) constipation

4) bowel obstruction, causing nausea, vomiting and abdominal intention

5) abdominal pain

6) pelvic pain

7) anaemia due to blood loss

8) weight loss

9) loss of appetite

10) fatigue

Abdominal pain

Screening and diagnosis

A) stool occult blood test

B) flexible sigmoidoscopy

C) Digital rectal examination

D) colonoscopy



Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the next step is to determine the extent of the disease and to implement an appropriate plan. A chest x-ray is a routine aspect of this workup. Another is CT scan, bone scan, MRI study etc. will determine the extent of cancer. CEA is a blood test that indicates the presence of cancer.

Prognosis and treatment plans for colorectal cancer depends on the extent and pattern of spread of cancer at the time of diagnosis.

1) stage 1- when the cancer is limited to the inside of bowel

2) stage 2- when the cancer is larger and penetrates through the wall of the bowel to the outside layers.

3) stage 3- when cancer is spread to the lymph glands in the abdomen.

4) stage- 4- when cancer has spread to other organs– liver, lungs etc.

Patterns of spread

1) Liver

2) Abdomen

3) Lungs

4) Bones

5) Pleural space

6) Brain


The survival of rate in colorectal cancer is determined by the stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis and to some degree, to the time of response by the treatment.

Stage 1- 85- 90 % survival

Stage 2 – 60- 84 % survival

Stage 3- 40- 48 %

Stage 4- less than 5%


Survival of the patients with colon cancer in whom a cure is not possible could vary from months to years, depending on the extent of cancer, response to treatments and duration of the response.

Dr S.k.jha


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