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Understanding Colorectal Cancer: Risks, Symptoms, and Prevention

by Terry Wilson

Cancer is among the leading causes of death globally. Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the colon (large intestine) and rectum, both of which make up the lower part of the digestive system. Unfortunately, this cancer doesn't usually show any symptoms during the early stages, making it crucial to stay informed about the risks, symptoms, and prevention measures you can take.

What Are the Risks of Colorectal Cancer? 

Most cases of colorectal cancer can occur in individuals in their older years, with risk factors being more pronounced in those aging. Other risk factors include low-fiber diets, obesity and sedentary lifestyles, genetic predisposition, and a history of inflammatory bowel disease. Further, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and certain medical conditions like diabetes also increase the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer. If you fall into any of these categories, it's essential to monitor your health closely and consult your doctor for regular check-ups.

What Are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer? 

Depending on the stage, symptoms of colorectal cancer can range from none at all to rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, or unexplained weight loss. Some patients also report feeling like their bowels aren't emptied completely or tiredness, shortness of breath, or weakness.

How Can You Prevent Colorectal Cancer? 

One of the most effective ways of preventing colorectal cancer is through regular screenings and early detection. These screenings usually involve a colonoscopy, where a healthcare professional examines the lower digestive tract to identify any abnormalities or cancerous growths. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking and alcohol reduces the risk of contracting colorectal cancer significantly.

Treatment Options for Colorectal Cancer 

The type of treatment for colorectal cancer depends on the stage and type of cancer, among other factors. The three main treatment options for colorectal cancer include:

Surgery: Depending on the situation, colorectal cancer may necessitate removing polyps or parts of the colon through surgery.

Chemotherapy: For more advanced cases of colorectal cancer, chemotherapy may be necessary to shrink malignant tumors and destroy cancer cells.

Radiation Therapy: This treatment option uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and can be used in combination with surgery or chemotherapy.

Life After Colorectal Cancer 

Surviving colorectal cancer can be life-changing, especially during the period of treatment. After treatment, it's essential to adjust to a healthier lifestyle by maintaining a balanced diet, reducing alcohol and tobacco use, and engaging in physical activity. Additionally, regular check-ups with your doctor are essential to ensure cancer doesn't resurface or monitor any effects of the treatment on your overall health.

Staying informed about colorectal cancer is crucial in preventing, detecting, and treating it. Regular screenings, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and understanding the risks, symptoms, and treatment options available can go a long way in increasing or lowering the risk of developing this form of cancer. Overall, ensuring that you take care of your health and seek medical attention when necessary can prevent colorectal cancer from abruptly interrupting your life.

For more information on colorectal cancer, contact a professional near you.