Cancer of the tissue in the colon or rectum is referred to as colorectal cancer. Cancer arises due to the abnormal growth and division of tissues in one of these organs. The uncontrolled division and growth of the cells in the colon or rectum result in the formation of a tumor. This cancer has a high success rate in treatments if diagnosed in the early stages. However, as the disease becomes advanced, chances of complete remission reduces considerably. Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancers in the U.S.
The major risk factors associated with the disease include:
- Heredity – A particular genetic makeup makes a person more susceptible to get this cancer.
- Diet – Studies show that many types of foods that contain animal fat and protein release carcinogenic substances, which increases the chance of developing colorectal cancer.
- Smoking and alcohol abuse – These lifestyle habits influence the body and increases the risk of this disease considerably.
- Family history – The risk of this cancer increases if any one of an individual's family has had this cancer.
- Exposure to chemicals – Prolonged exposure to chemicals, like chlorine and asbestos, are found to increase the risk considerably.
- Health condition – Other diseases, like Crohn’s disease, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer are associated with enhanced risk of this condition.
The most common symptoms of colon cancer are:
- Persistent diarrhea or constipation
- Rectal bleeding
- Rectal cramps
- Presence of blood in stool
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Loss of appetitie
- Weight loss
- Pelvic pain
If one sees symptoms, like change in the bowel movements, including diarrhea or constipation, he or she should report it to a doctor. People often confuse this for the presence of haemorrhoids, and ignore the symptoms totally. In most of the cases, these symptoms will be seen along with pain in the abdomen and unexplained weight loss. If the symptoms are linked to colorectal cancer, it is better to get it diagnosed it as soon as possible so as to start the treatment.