When Should I See My Doctor
See your doctor or healthcare professional if you have blood in your stool, unexplained changes in your bowel habits, tiredness, abdominal pain or any other symptoms that may indicate bowel cancer.
Since bowel cancer can develop with few signs early on, you should also speak with your doctor if you know of any pre-existing risk factors, or if you are concerned about getting it later in life.
Lysosomal Exoglycosidases As Potential Crc Markers
Recently, studies have been conducted on application of lysosomal exoglycosidases as CRC markers including -mannosidase, -galactosidase and N-acetyl–D-hexosaminidase, its isoenzymes A and B and cathepsin D .
Scholarship Project I’m studying, researching, commercialize UMB doctoral support program co-financed by the European Union under the European Social Fund.
Rigid Proctoscopy And Endorectal Ultrasound
These procedures are also critical for the staging of rectal cancers. The surgeon inserts a scope into the rectum to determine the exact location of a rectal cancer. An ultrasound probe can also be inserted into the rectum to determine the thickness of the cancer and whether lymph nodes are involved.
Causes Of Bowel Cancer
Cancer occurs when the cells in a certain area of your body divide and multiply too rapidly. This produces a lump of tissue known as a tumour.
Most cases of bowel cancer first develop inside clumps of cells on the inner lining of the bowel. These clumps are known as polyps. However, if you develop polyps, it does not necessarily mean you will get bowel cancer.
Exactly what causes cancer to develop inside the bowel is still unknown. However, research has shown several factors may make you more likely to develop it.
Deaths From Colorectal Cancer
In the United States, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and in women, and the second most common cause of cancer deaths when numbers for men and women are combined. It’s expected to cause about 52,580 deaths during 2022.
The death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for several decades. There are a number of likely reasons for this. One reason is that colorectal polyps are now being found more often by screening and removed before they can develop into cancers, or cancers are being found earlier when they are easier to treat. In addition, treatments for colorectal cancer have improved over the last few decades. As a result, there are now more than 1.5 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States. Although the overall death rate has continued to drop, deaths from colorectal cancer among people younger than 55 have increased 1% per year from 2008 to 2017.
Statistics related to survival among people with colorectal cancer are discussed in Survival Rates for Colorectal Cancer.
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What Are The Screening Guidelines For Colorectal Cancer
Patients with positive colorectal cancer screening tests should always follow up with a colonoscopy.
To benefit from early detection, men and women at average risk colorectal cancer should get a screening colonoscopy every 10 years beginning at age 45. African American men and women should begin regular screening colonoscopies at age 45.
What Do Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines Say About Who Should Have Colorectal Cancer Screening
Expert medical groups, including the US Preventive Services Task Force , strongly recommend screening for colorectal cancer. Although some details of the recommendations vary, most groups now generally recommend that people at average risk of colorectal cancer get screened at regular intervals beginning at age 45 or 50 .
The expert medical groups generally recommend that screening continue to age 75 for those aged 76 to 85 years, the decision to screen is based on the individuals life expectancy, health conditions, and prior screening results.
People who are at increased risk of colorectal cancer because of a family history of colorectal cancer or documented advanced polyps or because they have inflammatory bowel disease or certain inherited conditions may be advised to start screening earlier and/or have more frequent screening.
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Immunochemical Faecal Occult Blood Test
You may have an iFOBT depending on your symptoms. The test may be used if you have abdominal pain, changes to their bowel habits, unexplained weight loss of anaemia. It is not recommended if you are bleeding from the rectum.
With the iFOBT you will take a sample of your stools at home. The sample is examined under a microscope for traces of blood which could be a sign for polyps, cancer or other bowel condition. It does not diagnose cancer but if blood is detected, your doctor will recommend a colonoscopy no more than 30 days after getting the result.
What Conditions Are Associated With Colorectal Cancer
- Polyps: There are a variety of polyps that can form on the inner wall of the colon or rectum. Precancerous polyps can turn into colorectal cancer. People with numerous polypsincluding adenomas, serrated polyps or other types of polypsoften have a genetic predisposition to polyposis and colorectal cancer. These individuals should be managed differently than people with only one to two colorectal polyps.
- Inflammatory bowel disease:Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s colitis are conditions in which the lining of the colon becomes inflamed. People with these conditions, when present for more than seven years and affecting a large portion of the colon, are at greater risk for developing colorectal cancer.
- Personal history: A person who already has had colorectal adenomas or cancer may develop the disease a second time. Also, a history of inflammatory bowel disease can increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Family history: Sometimes colon cancer runs in families. This type of moderately increased cancer risk can be called a “familial colon cancer.” When a person has a hereditary cancer susceptibility, he or she has inherited a copy of a cancer susceptibility gene with a mutation. Individuals who inherit a mutation in a cancer susceptibility gene have a much greater chance for developing cancer. However, not everyone with a cancer susceptibility gene mutation will develop cancer. Genetic testing is available for these colorectal cancer syndromes.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Chemotherapy And Immunotherapies
The side effects of traditional chemotherapy depend upon the drug, its dosage, how long the treatment lasts and the patient. Because traditional chemotherapy drugs target rapidly dividing cancer cells, they also kill other rapidly dividing healthy cells in the lining of the mouth and the gastrointestinal tract, the hair follicles, and the bone marrow. The side effects of chemotherapy come from damage to these normal cells.
The side effects of traditional chemotherapy can include:
Since chemotherapy affects the bone marrow, there may also be a greater risk of infection , bleeding or bruising from minor injuries , and anemia-related fatigue .
Although it may take some time, most side effects related to chemotherapy will go away when the chemotherapy is stopped.
The side effects of monoclonal antibodies depend on the drug. Many of these side effects are similar to those of traditional chemotherapy medications.
Ask your doctor about the side effects of any medications before you start to take them. If you are having any side effects, tell your doctor. In many cases, they can be treated or prevented with medications or a change in diet.
What Parts Of The Body Are Affected By Colorectal Cancer
To understand colorectal cancer, it is helpful to understand what parts of the body are affected and how they work.
The colon is an approximately 5- to 6-foot long tube that connects the small intestine to the rectum. The colon which, along with the rectum, is called the large intestine moves and processes digesting food across your body and down towards the rectum, where it exits the body as stool. There are several parts of the colon, including:
- Ascending colon: This section is where undigested food begins its journey through the colon. Undigested food moves upwards through this section, where fluid is reabsorbed more efficiently.
- Transverse colon: Moving across the body, the transverse colon takes the food from one side of the body to the other .
- Descending colon: Once the food has travelled across the top through the transverse colon, it makes its way downward through the descending colontypically on the left side.
- Sigmoid colon: The final section of the colon, this portion is shaped like an S and it is the last stop before the rectum.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Colorectal Cancer
Unfortunately, some colorectal cancers might be present without any signs or symptoms. For this reason, it is very important to have regular colorectal screenings to detect problems early. The best screening evaluation is a colonoscopy. Other screening options include fecal occult blood tests, fecal DNA tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, barium enema, and CT colonography . The age at which such screening tests begin depends upon your risk factors, especially a family history of colon and rectal cancers.
Even if you do not have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, tell your doctor if you have any of the signs that could indicate a colorectal cancer, no matter what your age. Common signs of colorectal cancer include the following:
If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, it is important to see your doctor for evaluation. For a patient with colorectal cancer, early diagnosis and treatment can be life-saving.
Medical History And Physical Exam
Your doctor will ask about your medical history to learn about possible risk factors, including your family history. You will also be asked if youre having any symptoms and, if so, when they started and how long youve had them.
As part of a physical exam, your doctor will feel your abdomen for masses or enlarged organs, and also examine the rest of your body. You may also have a digital rectal exam . During this test, the doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum to feel for any abnormal areas.
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Further Tests For Colon Cancer
If any of your biopsies show that there is cancer in the colon, you will have more tests. The results will help you and your doctor decide on the best treatment for you. Some tests may be repeated during and after treatment. You may have any of the following tests:
- More blood tests
Your blood may be tested for a protein called carcinoembryonic antigen . Some people with bowel cancer have higher levels of this protein.
- CT scan
A CT scan uses x-rays to build a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body.
- MRI scan
An MRI scan uses magnetism to build up a detailed picture of areas of your body.
- PET-CT scan
A PET-CT scan is a combination of a CT scan, which takes a series of x-rays to build up a three-dimensional picture, and a positron emission tomography scan. A PET scan uses low-dose radiation to measure the activity of cells in different parts of the body.
- Visit our bowel cancer forum to talk with people who have been affected by colon cancer, share your experience, and ask an expert your questions.
Colonoscopy And Biopsy For Colon Cancer Diagnosis
If we suspect that you have colon cancer based on those results, one of our specialists will do a colonoscopy and take a biopsy. In this test, the doctor removes a small piece of tissue with a special instrument. One of our expert pathologists then examines the tissue sample under a microscope.
Your care team may recommend CT and MRI scans to determine the stage of the cancer and to see if it has spread to other organs.
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Bowel Cancer Risk Factors
The causes of bowel cancer are not clearly understood. Regular screening is important because bowel cancer can develop without noticeable symptoms.
The risk of bowel cancer is greater if you:
- Are aged 50 and over .
- Have had an inflammatory bowel disease , particularly if you have had it for more than 8 years.
- Have previously had special types of polyps in the bowel or a large number of polyps in the bowel.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy.
What Tests Are Used To Stage Colorectal Cancer
The tests you receive will depend on whether your cancer is located in your colon or rectum. Colon and rectal cancers are staged differently. Because rectal tumors have a greater capacity to impact other organs and parts of the body, they often require additional tests.
- Learn more about treatment of rectal cancer.
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Colon Cancer: How Doctors Stage Colon Cancer
If your gastroenterologist determines a colon polyp is cancerous, you may need additional imaging tests such as a CT scan to confirm and possibly stage the cancer.
Staging refers to how far a cancer has spread. This will also help determine your treatment.
Stage 1 and 2 colon cancer: Confined to the colon wall
Stage 3 colon cancer: Has spread to nearby lymph nodes
Stage 4 colon cancer: Has spread to distant organs, such as the liver or lungs
Doctors often recommend surgery for colon cancer treatment, explains Chowdhury. While surgery may be an effective treatment for many with colorectal cancer, it is important to seek out an experienced physician for your own case
Tests To Look For Blood In Your Stool
If you are seeing the doctor because of anemia or symptoms you are having , a stool test might be recommended to check for blood that isnt visible to the naked eye , which might be a sign of cancer. These types of tests a fecal occult blood test or fecal immunochemical test are done at home, and require you to collect 1 to 3 samples of stool from a bowel movement. For more on how these tests are done, see Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests.
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Risk Factors And Inherited Forms
The individual risk of colorectal cancer is essentially dependent on non-modifiable dispositional factors such as age, sex, and family history as well as the in principle modifiable exposure to risk factors. It is estimated that 30-50% of the colorectal cancer risk is attributable to lifestyle factors such as smoking, high consumption of red and processed meat, obesity, diabetes, and excessive consumption of alcohol .
Age as a risk factor is equally relevant in women and men. More than 50% of colorectal cancers are diagnosed after age 70, and only 10% are diagnosed before age 55 . However, the risk of men developing advanced adenoma or cancer is roughly double that of women . Furthermore, men develop advanced adenoma and colorectal cancer earlier in their lives than women . A recent study demonstrated that male sex increases the risk to a similar extent as a positive family history of colorectal cancer .
Diagnosis Of Colorectal Cancer
Diagnosis is the process of finding out the cause of a health problem. Diagnosing colorectal cancer usually begins with a visit to your family doctor. Your doctor will ask you about any symptoms you have and may do a physical exam. Based on this information, your doctor may refer you to a specialist or order tests to check for colorectal cancer or other health problems.
The process of diagnosis may seem long and frustrating. Its normal to worry, but try to remember that other health conditions can cause similar symptoms as colorectal cancer. Its important for the healthcare team to rule out other reasons for a health problem before making a diagnosis of colorectal cancer.
The following tests are usually used to rule out or diagnose colorectal cancer. Many of the same tests used to diagnose cancer are used to find out the stage . Your doctor may also order other tests to check your general health and to help plan your treatment.
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Diagnosis And Staging Of Colorectal Cancer
If your colorectal screening procedure reveals abnormal tissue, youll undergo follow-up tests to determine whether you have cancer and whether the cancer has spread. The Washington University Physicians and pathologists at Siteman will ensure that you receive an accurate diagnosis and a comprehensive treatment plan that takes the genetic signature of your cancer into account.
How Colorectal Cancer Is Diagnosed
There are many tests used for diagnosing colorectal cancer. Not all tests described here will be used for every person. Your doctor may consider these factors when choosing a diagnostic test:
The type of cancer suspected
Your signs and symptoms
Your age and general health
Your medical and family history
The results of earlier medical tests
In addition to a physical examination, the following tests may be used to diagnose colorectal cancer.
After diagnostic tests are done, your doctor will review the results with you. If the diagnosis is cancer, these results also help the doctor describe the cancer. This is called staging.
The next section in this guide is Stages. It explains the system doctors use to describe the extent of the disease. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.
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How Common Is Colorectal Cancer
Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. The American Cancer Societys estimates for the number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2022 are:
- 106,180 new cases of colon cancer
- 44,850 new cases of rectal cancer
The rate of people being diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer each year has dropped overall since the mid-1980s, mainly because more people are getting screened and changing their lifestyle-related risk factors. From 2013 to 2017, incidence rates dropped by about 1% each year. But this downward trend is mostly in older adults and masks rising incidence among younger adults since at least the mid-1990s. From 2012 through 2016, it increased every year by 2% in people younger than 50 and 1% in people 50 to 64.