Colorectal cancer is also known as bowel cancer is cancer that starts in the colon (large intestine) or rectum. Both of these organs are in the lower portion of your digestive system and it is the final part of the digestive tract. The rectum is at the end of the colon.
Most colorectal cancers start as a small, non-cancerous clump of cells called polyps that form on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Over some time some of these polyps can become colon cancers. Colorectal cancer mostly affects old-aged adults, still, it can happen to any age group.
Your doctor needs to know the stage of cancer so they can come up with the best treatment plan.
• Stage 0
It is also known as carcinoma in situ, in this stage, abnormal cells are only in the inner living of the colon or rectum.
• Stage 1
Cancer has penetrated the lining or mucosa, of the colon or rectum and may have grown into the muscle layer. It hasn’t spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
• Stage 2
Cancer has spread to the walls of the colon or rectum or through the walls to nearby tissues but hasn’t affected the lymph nodes.
• Stage 3
Cancer has moved to the lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body.
• Stage 4
Cancer has spread to other distant organs, such as the liver or lungs.
Colorectal cancer often causes no symptoms in the earliest stages. However, symptoms may become more noticeable as it progresses.
These signs and symptoms may include –
• Diarrhoea or constipation
• Blood in the stool, which may or may not be visible.
• Loose, narrow stool
• Changes in stool consistency
• Abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, or gas
• Continual urges to defecate despite passing stools
• Weakness and fatigue
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Iron deficiency anemia
• Unexplained weight loss
It is not certain what causes most colon cancers. In general, colon cancer begins when healthy cells in the colon develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. A cell’s DNA contains a set of instructions that tell a call what to do.
Healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly way to keep your body functioning normally. But when a cell’s DNA is damaged and becomes cancerous, cells continue to divide – even when new cells aren’t needed. As the cells accumulate, they form a tumor.
With time, the cancer cells can grow to invade and destroy normal time nearby. Cancerous cells can travel to other parts of the body to form deposits there.
Risk Factors –
• Older age
• African-American age
• A personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps
• Inflammatory intestinal condition such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis
• Inherited syndromes that increase colon cancer risk
• Family history of colon cancer
• Low fiber, high-fat diet
• Radiation therapy for cancer
• A sedentary lifestyle
If your sign and symptoms indicate that you could have colon cancer, the doctor may recommend one or more tests and procedures, including –
• Using a scope to examine the inside of your colon (Colonoscopy)
• Double-contrast barium creame
• No blood test can tell you if you have colon cancer. But your doctor may test your blood for clues about your overall health such as kidney and liver tests.
Your doctor may test your blood for a chemical sometimes produced by colon cancers (Carcinoembryonic antigen or CEA).
Treatment for colon cancer usually involves surgery to remove cancer. Other treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, might also be recommended.
Surgery for early-stage colon cancer
If your colon cancer is very small, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive approach to surgery, such as –
• Removing polyps during a colonoscopy (polypectomy)
• Endoscopic mucosal resection
• Minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopic surgery)
Surgery for more advanced colon cancer
• Partial colectomy
• Surgery to create a way for waste to leave your body (Colostomy)
• Lymph node removal
Surgery for advanced cancer
If cancer is very advanced or the patient’s health very poor, a surgeon may recommend an operation to relieve a blockage of your colon or other conditions to improve your symptoms.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. Thistherapy is usually given after surgery if the cancer is larger or has spread to the lymph nodes. In this way, chemotherapy may kill any cancer cells that remain in the body and help reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.
Chemotherapy might also be used before an operation shrink large cancer so that it’s easier to remove with surgery.
Radiation therapy uses powerful energy sources, such as X-rays and protons, to kill cancer cells. It might be used to shrink large cancer before an operation so that it can be removed more easily.
When surgery isn’t an option, radiation therapy might be used to relieve symptoms, such as pain. Sometimes radiation is combined with chemotherapy.
Targeted drug therapy
This therapy causes specific abnormalities present within cancer cells. By blocking these abnormalities, targeted drug treatments can cause cancer cells to die. This is usually combined with chemotherapy.
It is a drug treatment that uses your immune system to fight cancer. Your body’s disease-fighting immune system may not attack you cancer because the cancer cells produce proteins that blind the immune system cells from recognizing the cancer cells. Immunotherapy works by interfering with that process.
There is no guaranteed way to prevent colon cancer. However, some preventive measures include –
• Maintaining a healthy weight
• Exercising regularly
• Consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
• Limiting the intake of saturated fats and red meat
People should also consider limiting their alcohol consumption and quitting smoking.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
Arbuda is the term used in Ayurvedic texts to describe cancer. Typically colorectal cancers are caused by the accumulation of three doshas (either vata, pitta, or kapha) or by intestinal obstruction.
It is clearly stated that abdominal diseases arise from a weak digestive agni (power of digestion) and a resultant increase of malas (waste products). Waste products build up, energy becomes depleted and the passages of prana going up and malas (waste) going down and become obstructed.
Ayurvedic Anti-cancer Herbs
• Wheat Grass
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