Colorectal cancer refers to cancer of the colon or rectum. It occurs when the colon and rectum cells become abnormal and grow out of control, forming a mass of cells. Depending on where it starts, it can also be called colon cancer or rectum cancer.
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers that affect both genders. However, it largely affects men. It occurs mostly in older people who are over 50. The incidence of colorectal cancer is low in India, but there has been a significant increase in cases in the last two decades.
Types of Colorectal Cancer
The common types of colorectal cancer are:
- Adenocarcinoma: It is the most common colorectal cancer and develops in the lining of the colon and the rectum.
- Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumor: It arises in the special hormone-producing cells present in the intestine.
- Sarcoma: This cancer starts in the muscles, blood vessels, and connective tissue in the walls of the colon and rectum.
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
The common signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
- Blood in the stool
- Changes in bowel habits, including constipation or diarrhea
- Pain, cramps, or gas in the abdomen
- Feeling tired or weak
- Unexplained weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling that the bowel does not empty completely or fully
- Feeling full even after a long period without eating
Causes of Colorectal Cancer
The exact cause of cancer is not unknown. However, several factors that increase the chances of colorectal cancer are:
- Increased age above 50 years
- Being male
- Having a low-fiber, high-fat, and protein diet
- Smoking and consuming alcohol
- Having a diet rich in processed or red meat
- Having type 2 diabetes
- Being obese
- Having inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis
- Inactive lifestyle
- Having polyps in the rectum or colon
- Exposure to certain chemicals or radiation
- Certain inherited or genetic factors
- Previous treatment for certain cancers, such as pelvic cancer
Any symptom that lasts for more than 2 weeks should be brought to the attention of a doctor. At HCG, we have some of the best colorectal cancer specialists in Nashik, Maharashtra, who have vast experience in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of colorectal cancers.
Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer
HCG Manavata Cancer Center, which is one of the best colorectal cancer hospitals in Nashik, houses advanced technologies to support an accurate diagnosis of colorectal cancer.
- Colonoscopy: A specialized tool called a colonoscope is used to look inside the entire colon and rectum.
- Biopsy: A small amount of tissue is removed with the needle, which a technician examines under the microscope.
- Blood Test: Blood tests are used to detect the levels of carcinoembryonic antigen. High levels of this antigen could be a sign of colorectal cancer. This test is also used to assess the treatment response.
- Imaging Tests: Scans like ultrasound scan, PET/CT scan, MRI scan, etc., are recommended to obtain the detailed images of the colon and rectum. These images help doctors assess the stage of the disease, determine its size and exact location, plan the right treatment, and monitor the treatment response.
Treatment for Colorectal Cancer
For the best colon cancer treatment in Nashik, patients should visit the HCG Manavata Cancer Center, which is fully equipped with advanced diagnostic and treatment facilities. The treatment for colorectal cancer is devised after considering numerous factors like the tumor location, the disease stage, the patient’s age, and the overall condition of the patient. Common methods used for the treatment of colorectal cancer are:
Surgery: It is performed by a surgical oncologist who removes the tumor and nearby healthy tissue. The different types of surgery performed include:
- Colectomy (Partial/Total): This procedure removes a part of the entire colon depending on the stage of the disease. The laparoscopic approach is minimally invasive and has added advantages like fewer treatment-related complications, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery. The remaining part of the GI canal may be joined through an anastomosis procedure.
- Proctectomy (Partial/Total): This procedure removes the entire or part of the rectum depending on the stage of the disease. Depending on the type of proctectomy performed, an anastomosis (joining the remaining rectum tissue to support bowel movements) or colostomy may follow.
- Total Proctocolectomy: This procedure involves the removal of both the colon and the rectum. This is recommended in advanced-stage cancers.
- Abdominoperineal Resection: The anus, rectum, and sigmoid colon are removed during this procedure. This procedure will be followed by a colostomy. This procedure may be recommended for advanced-stage colorectal cancers.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy refers to the use of anti-cancer drugs to slow the growth of cancerous cells and kill them. It is usually given in a specific number of cycles for a specific period. The patient may receive a single drug or a combination of 2-3 drugs at a time. Chemotherapy may be used in combination with surgery and radiation therapy depending on the disease stage, age, and the overall condition of the patient. Chemotherapy can be administered intravenously or orally.
Radiation Therapy: During radiation therapy, intense beams of X-rays and protons are used on cancerous cells to kill them and stop them from growing, multiplying, and spreading. It can be given internally by placing a radioactive source near the cancerous cells or externally by using a machine that emits radiation onto the tumor to kill the cancerous cells. It is usually used for treating rectal cancer rather than colon cancer.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy works by improving the capacity of the body’s immune system to recognize and attack cancerous cells. Specific proteins produced by cancerous cells blind the immune system from recognizing them, and immunotherapy works by interfering with this process. It is used for advanced-stage colorectal cancer or when other treatment methods fail.
Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy specifically targets cancer’s unique genes, proteins, or tumor environment that promote the growth and survival of the disease. This form of therapy prevents the development and spread of cancer cells while minimizing harm to healthy cells.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I prevent colorectal cancer?
You should follow a healthy diet and live an active lifestyle. You should get screened yearly by your doctor if you are 45 years of age or older. Also, quit smoking and keep alcohol consumption under control.
2. Do I have colorectal cancer if there is blood in the stool?
Having blood in the stool is the earliest sign of colorectal cancer. However, several conditions can lead to bleeding. Kindly see a doctor who can accurately diagnose the condition and help you receive appropriate care.
3. How will I know which treatment method is best for my condition?
The treatment plan for colorectal cancer is devised after considering numerous factors, such as the exact location of the tumor, type of cancer, stage of cancer, the patient’s age, overall health, and personal preference. The doctor will go through your diagnostic report before creating a suitable treatment plan for you. During your appointment, the doctor will thoroughly explain every step of your treatment, along with the results and side effects that you can expect
4. How does colorectal cancer develop?
Most of the time, colorectal cancer begins as polyps, which are small clumps of cells in the colon or rectum linings. Most polyps are benign; however, some can develop into cancerous tumors.