Bowel cancer (Colorectal Cancer)

Bowel cancer (Colorectal Cancer)

Bowel cancer (Colorectal Cancer)
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Bowel cancer is a common term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where the cancer starts, bowel cancer is occasionally called colon or rectal cancer.

Bowel cancer is one of the main common types of cancer diagnosed in the Nigeria. Most persons diagnosed with it are above the age of 60.

Symptoms of Bowel Cancer

The 3 major symptoms of bowel cancer are:

constant blood in your poo – that occurs for no obvious reason or is tied with a change in bowel habit

a persistent change in your bowel habit – which is generally having to poo more and your poo may also become more runny

constant lower abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort – that's always as a result of eating and may be linked with loss of appetite or significant unintentional weight loss

Many people with these symptoms may not have bowel cancer. Other health issues can cause similar symptoms. For example:

blood in the poo that is associated with pain or soreness is more often caused by piles (hemorrhoids)

a change in bowel habit or abdominal pain is generally caused by something you've eaten

a change in bowel habit to going less often, with harder poo, is not basically caused by any serious condition – it may be worth trying laxatives before seeing your doctor.

These symptoms ought to be taken more seriously as you age and when they persist regardless of simple treatments.

When to get medical advice

See your doctor If you have 1 or more of the symptoms of bowel cancer and they have lasted for more than 4 weeks.

Your doctor may decide to:

screen your tummy and bottom to make sure you have no lumps

Make arrangement for a plain blood test to check for iron deficiency anaemia – this can show if there's any bleeding from your bowel that you don’t know about.

arrange for you to do a basic test in hospital to ensure there's no severe cause of your symptoms

Causes of Bowel Cancer

The precise cause of bowel cancer is not known, but there are a number of things that can raise your risk, including:

age – almost 9 in 10 people with bowel cancer are about 60 years old or over

diet – a diet high in red or processed meats and low in fibre can enhance your risk

weight – bowel cancer is very common in overweight or obese people

exercise – lack of activity increases your risk of developing bowel cancer

alcohol – consuming alcohol might increase your risk of getting bowel cancer

smoking– smoking may raise your chances of getting bowel cancer

family history – having a close relative (mother or father, brother or sister) who has bowel cancer under the age of 50 places you at a greater lifetime risk of getting the condition; screening is offered to persons in this situation, and you should talk about this with your doctor. 

Some people may also have an increased risk of bowel cancer because they've had another condition, such as extensive ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease in the colon for many years.

Bowel Cancer screening

All men and women aged 60 to 74 are encouraged to carry out a FIT or FOB test.

An additional one-off test known as bowel scope screening: It involves a doctor or nurse observing the lower part of the bowel using a camera on the end of a thin, flexible tube.

Taking part in bowel cancer examination lowers your chances of dying from bowel cancer. Getting rid of any polyps – small growths that can grow on the inner lining of your bottom (rectum) – found in bowel scope screening can stop cancer.

However, all screening involves equilibrium of potential harms, as well as benefits. It's left for you to decide if you want to have it.

Treatment for Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer can be treated using a combination of various treatments, depending on where the cancer is in your bowel and how wide it has spread.

The main treatments are:

surgery – the cancerous section of bowel is removed; it's a very effective way of curing bowel cancer and in many cases is all you need

chemotherapy – introduction of medicines to kill cancer cells 

radiotherapy – where radiation is applied to kill cancer cells

targeted therapies – a newer group of medicines that increases the efficiency of chemotherapy and prevents the cancer distribution

As with other types of cancer, the chance of a complete cure relies mostly on how far it's spread by the time it's diagnosed. If the cancer is confined to the bowel, surgery is basically able to completely remove it.

Keyhole or robotic surgery is being used always, which allows surgery to be performed with less pain and a quicker recuperation.

Living with Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer can affect your regular life in different ways, depending on what level it's at and the treatment you're having.

How people cope with their diagnosis and treatment differs from person to person. There are several sorts of support available.

Discuss your friends and family – they can be a great support system

Discuss with other people in the same situation – for example, through bowel cancer support groups

Research as much as possible about your condition

Don’t attempt to do too much or overexert yourself

make time for yourself

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by

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