Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, begins in the large intestine or the rectum and affects the colon. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States. However, if it is diagnosed and treated early on, a full recovery and complete cure are common.
Signs of Colorectal Cancer
There are various symptoms related to colorectal cancer. If you experience any of the following symptoms, it is imperative that you contact your physician immediately for tests.
- Unexplained weight loss
- Narrow stools
- Blood in the stool
- Abdominal pain or tenderness in the lower abdomen
- Constipation, diarrhea, or other change in bowel movements
If you are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, your treatment may vary from a range of practices. The three most common forms of treatment are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Which treatment you receive will depend on the stage of cancer.
Surgery is most common for colorectal cancer in the first three stages. In stage 0, the cancer cells will be removed from the colon, usually by a colonoscopy. Stages one, two and three of colorectal cancer most often require a more invasive surgery to remove the cancerous part of the colon.
Chemotherapy is common for most patients with stage three and four of colorectal cancer. These patients usually receive chemotherapy for approximately 6-8 months after undergoing surgery.
Radiation therapy is the third type of treatment for colorectal cancer. Radiation is commonly used in combination with chemotherapy and usually reserved for patients with rectal cancer.
Prevention and Support
Regular colonoscopy screenings generally beginning at the age of 50 for most individuals are imperative for detecting and treating colorectal cancer early on. A healthy lifestyle and diet low in fat and high in fiber can also reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.
There are numerous support groups for patients with colorectal cancer. Learn more about how to receive support, discuss your experience and hear from other patients by visiting any of the websites below.