The growth of cancerous cells in the lining of the colon or large intestine, or rectum is called colorectal cancer. Colorectal is a grouping of cancers in the colon or the rectum because they have similar features.
The abnormal cell growth, called polyps, develops in the colon or the rectum, and though all polyps are malignant, many of them can turn cancerous with time, and it depends on the type of polyps.
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and American Hospital Dubai is giving FIT kits to highlight the importance of screening for colorectal cancer in addition to a consultation with one of our primary care doctors.
Be proactive about your colorectal health this March.
What is the FIT test?
The Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) is a highly effective early screening test for colon cancer. The FIT detects blood in the stool that is not visible, and blood in the stool is a warning sign of colon cancer. Not realizing it in time can delay treatment and increase complications.
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The colon (large intestine) and rectum are part of our digestive system or the Gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The colon comprises a significant portion of the large intestine, approximately 5 feet long. Its role is to process the partially digested food it receives from the small intestine, separate the water and nutrients, and direct the solid waste towards the rectum, which stores it and pushes it as stool through the anus during bowel movements.
There are many factors leading to colorectal cancer. The essential point to remember is research has not found decisive reasons for what causes cells in the colorectal region to turn cancerous. Still, several triggers promote the development of colorectal cancer.
Here are some of the leading causes of this cancer:
Low-fiber diet: The colon's health heavily depends on solid waste moving regularly to the rectum and excreted. The colon's biodome remains healthy if the food waste is constantly on the move to be eliminated by the body. A diet lacking in fiber leads to constipation and stresses the colon's environment. It's like having unwanted guests who won't leave.
Saturated fats, animal-protein-rich diet: These diets lack fiber and consequently impact the colon's ability to cleanse.
Alcohol and smoking irritate the tissues of the organs that process them, including the colon. Excessive exposure of the colon to alcohol, nicotine, and chemicals leads to stressed cell behavior, which can turn cancerous.
Poor physical activity: Lack of exercise, walking and staying active can affect colon health. How? The reason is simple: Exercise stimulates the gut and promotes intestinal processes, increasing blood flow to the digestive system, which includes the colon and rectum. Remember, these two organs are our flushing systems, critical to keeping the body clean internally. A sedentary lifestyle makes the colon sluggish, leading to problems.
Obesity: Research indicates excessive visceral or abdominal fat contributes to the development of colon cancer.
Inflammatory bowel disease: Chronic gastrointestinal (GI) tract inflammation can trigger cancerous call behavior in the large intestine.
Type 2 diabetes: Studies show hyperinsulinemia or high insulin levels and free Insulin-like Growth Factors (IGF-1) in patients with Type 2 diabetes can encourage colon cells to multiply, leading to cancer. Research suggests that high IGF-1 levels are generally cancer-causing.
Genetic mutations: Several cancer-related hereditary genetic mutations create a predisposition to colon cancer, such as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis and Lynch syndrome (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer). However, people with no family history can develop colon cancer.
Polyps in the colon or rectum: Most polyps or cell growths are not cancerous, but some can become cancerous with time. It is essential to undergo routine screenings for colorectal polyps.
According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, colorectal cancer is the 3rd most common cancer worldwide. It is the 3rd most common cancer in men and the 2nd most common cancer in women. In 2020, there were more than 1.9 million new cases of colorectal cancer.
What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?
The early stages of cancer do not lead to symptoms, but as the disease progresses,
The following symptoms will appear:
American Hospital Dubai has state-of-the-art facilities, including its advanced, in-house laboratory to diagnose colorectal cancer. Our team of skilled specialists, oncologists and radiation experts work to provide the best, most accurate diagnosis with efficiency and personalized care.
The following are the diagnostic methods to detect colorectal cancer:
A multi-specialist, inter-departmental team leads American Hospital Dubai's treatment for colorectal cancer to provide the best treatment. We deliver comprehensive care with a thorough assessment and therapeutic options from our multidisciplinary team of doctors in surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and personalized medicine.
Our team will determine treatment based on the following factors:
The following are the main treatments for colorectal cancer:
Surgery (early-stage cancer): A colonoscopy is highly effective if the cancer is detected in the very initial stage. The cancerous tissue and a small portion of surrounding tissue are removed.
Laparoscopic surgery: This minimally invasive surgery removes polyps that a colonoscopy cannot tackle. Small incisions are made on the abdomen through which instruments with cameras help the surgeon remove the cancerous portions.
Partial colectomy: This procedure is done in the advanced stages of colorectal cancer. The surgeon removes the portion of the colon affected by cancer and reconnects its two ends through laparoscopy. Suppose the cancerous colon portion is large, and the ends cannot be reconnected; in that case, the surgeon makes an opening in the abdominal wall to help the stool eliminate into an external pouch covering the opening. It is called a colostomy, which may be temporary or permanent depending on the colon's healing.
Radiotherapy: High-energy rays target cancer cells to thwart or kill their growth. This treatment can be delivered outside the body or from within, though external radiation is not usually given if the colon or rectum is highly damaged. Internal radiation sends a radioactive substance to the cancer cells through the bloodstream.
Immunotherapy: The cancer patient's immune system fights the disease through advanced methods to attack the cancer cells that trick the immune system and evade detection.
Targeted Cancer Therapy: This treatment uses drugs that hamper the molecular behavior of cancer cells, stopping cancer from growing.
Palliative care is a form of therapy that alleviates cancer pain and associated symptoms and seeks to comfort patients while they undergo treatments.
There are several ways to improve colorectal health. Lifestyle modifications and healthy dietary habits can significantly lower the risks of colorectal cancer.