Colorectal cancer is a malignant tumour that grows in the colon or the rectum. Most colorectal cancer starts with the growth of polyps in the lining of the colon. Not all polyps may develop into colorectal cancer; the type that may develop into cancer may take 10 to 15 years to develop into colorectal cancer. Therefore, regular screening is vital for early detection of polyps which can be removed via a colonoscopy procedure before they have the chance to turn into colorectal cancer.
Lifestyle changes and prevention:
To decrease your risk of developing colon cancer consider the following:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Stay active on most days of the week
- Consume a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and wholegrains
- Reduce the consumption of red meat and processed meat
- Limit your alcohol intake and smoking
Most polyps cause no symptoms. Symptoms associated with colorectal cancer may include:
- Bleeding in the rectum / blood in the stool
- A change in bowel habits/narrow stools
- Cramps and discomfort in the abdomen
- Feeling that your bowel is not empty
- Unexplained weight loss
There are several tests that can help diagnose colorectal cancer including a colonoscopy procedure and a test that looks for blood in the stool. Speak to your physician who will guide you on the best screening option for you and the frequency that this should be carried out.
Treatment protocols vary and depend on the stage of the cancer. A multidisciplinary team will study all cases and offer a tailored plan that is suitable for every patient.