Colorectal cancer refers to cancerous growths in the colon or rectum or in the appendix. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer. It is more prevalent in developed countries. It usually begins in the wall of intestine but could then invade the muscular layer and spread deep into the bowel wall.
It most commonly affects the older age group. In the initial stages of the disease, it could be brought under control by surgery. But as the disease advances to spread into the deeper layers of the colon, there is no scope for surgery. Chemotherapy could help in treating some of the symptoms and improving the quality of life. Colon polyps and ulcerative colitis could lead to colorectal cancer. Heredity also plays a prominent role. Here are some of the symptoms of colorectal cancer.
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
Symptoms of colorectal cancer are numerous and non specific. Besides, most of the symptoms depend on the location of colon involve. The colorectal cancer could be present in the colon, rectum or appendix. It also depends on how far the growth has spread. this is because some parts of the colon are broad and could accumulate a relatively larger growth than the narrow areas. As the cancer spreads deeper, the symptoms increase in intensity.
Changes in Bowel Habits
Changes in bowel habits always requires special consideration. This is of added significance, if it occurs at an older age. Many a times there is worsening constipation. Or it could be a change to diarrhea. The volume and quantity of the stool may not be much. But there will be increased frequency of stool.
It is important to keep in mind that the person may not notice any symptoms before it is spread too deep. The changes in bowel habits point towards colorectal cancer, if it lasts more than six weeks. A mass in the left colon usually causes obstruction to the passage of stool and the patient will have to strain.
Bleeding Per Rectum and Iron Deficiency Anemia
Blood in the stools is most often a presenting feature of colorectal cancer. The stools may be mixed with blood or there may be frank bleeding. The tumors as they invade into the bowel wall, could rupture blood vessels. There are tiny blood vessels formed within the tumor too. The bleeding could cause anemia The anemia is due to iron deficiency. As a result of anemia, there is often tiredness, breathlessness etc.
Pain in the Abdomen
Almost all cancers are painful, except for some. The colorectal cancer is likewise very painful. The pain is most often located in the lower abdomen or in the back passage.
Sometimes, a large tumor could cause obstruction to the passage of stools. This could result in severe gripping pain in the abdomen along with bloating, constipation and general feeling of being unwell.
Weight loss is often an indication to a tumor or growth. The colorectal cancer is associated with weight loss. The person looses a large amount of body weight. Weight loss is especially prominent in those with diarrhea. If there is spread of tumor to other sites (metastasis), then other symptoms depending on the location of the tumor could be present.
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