Colorectal cancer occurs in the colon and the rectum. Many people refer to it as colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where it starts. When some cells of the colon or rectum start growing and multiplying out of control, they become cancerous. In most cases, colorectal cancer begins as growths known as polyps in the inner lining of the colon or rectum.
Even though not all polyps become cancers, some grow into cancerous cells over time, usually many years. The type of polyps determines whether they turn into cancer or not. Let’s look at some types of polyps.
- Adenomatous polyps- also known as adenomas, these polyps can change into cancer at times. As such, experts refer to them as a precancerous condition. They exist in three types, namely villous, tubular and tubulovillous.
- Inflammatory polyps and hyperplastic polyps are common but not cancerous. However, you may need to regularly undergo Hong Kong colorectal cancer screening if you have big (more than 1cm) hyperplastic polyps.
- Traditional serrated adenomas and sessile serrated polyps are treated as adenomas because they are more likely to cause colorectal cancer.
Several factors increase the likelihood of polyps developing into colorectal cancer. They are:
- If your polyps are more than 1cm large.
- If you have more than 3polyps.
- If dysplasia is detected in the polyp after removal. This is a precancerous condition that means a part in the lining of the colon or rectum has abnormal cells, but they have not become cancerous yet.
The spread of colorectal cancer
When cancer forms in a polyp, it spreads into the wall of the colon or rectum over time. Note that the wall of the colon and rectum has many layers, so cancer begins in the innermost layer known as the mucosa. Over time it can spread to the other layers.
When the cancer cells are in the wall of the colon or rectum, they can quickly spread to the blood vessels and lymph channels that carry away fluid and waste. Afterward, they spread to the surrounding lymph nodes and other distant parts of the body. The extent of the cancer depends on how deeply the cancerous cells have grown into the wall and how far they have spread outside the colon and the rectum.
Ome thing about polyps is that they are usually small and produce few to no symptoms. For that reason, Hong Kong colorectal cancer screening is necessary to identify and remove polyps before they turn cancerous.
Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer
- Rectal bleeding that often manifests as blood in the stool.
- A constant change in your bowel habits, for instance, a change in the consistency of your stool, constipation, or diarrhea.
- Regular abdominal discomfort such as pain or gas.
- Your bowel doesn’t empty fully.
- Unexplained weight loss.
In most cases, many victims of colorectal cancer experience no symptoms during the early stages of the cancer. Even when they appear in the advanced stages, the symptoms vary depending on the size of the tumor and location inside the large intestine. That is why colorectal cancer screening is essential whenever you suspect persistent symptoms of concern.
Also, you should discuss with your doctor when to begin colorectal cancer screening. Most experts recommend starting at the age of 50years because the cancer is common in older adults. However, your doctor may recommend beginning earlier or frequent colorectal cancer screening if you have risk factors like a family history of the condition, inflammatory intestinal diseases, and older age.
How to prevent colorectal cancer
You can make some lifestyle efforts to reduce your chances of developing colorectal cancer.
Undergoing regular screenings for colorectal cancer helps protect you from the disease. It can detect the precancerous or cancerous cells when it is treatable. It helps by detecting abnormal growths known as polyps that are likely to develop into cancer. It is recommendable to start colorectal cancer screening at the age of 50years but earlier for people with a family history of the cancer. A follow-up colonoscopy is necessary if the doctor suspects anything during a screening test.
Eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Some lifestyle changes can minimize your risk of colorectal cancer. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables contain various vitamins and nutrients that play a role in cancer prevention. There is also good evidence that plenty of calcium and vitamin D can prevent the chances of developing colorectal cancer, especially in older adults, overweight people, and those with darker skin.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight increases your risk of colorectal cancer. If you are overweight, exercise more often and talk to your doctor about healthy ways of losing weight. You can cut down the number of calories you eat and gradually increase your exercise. If you have a healthy weight, maintain it by exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet.
Avoiding smoking is the best thing you can do for your health. If you are a smoker, talk to your doctor about safer ways to quit. If you are not a smoker, do not start smoking. Smoking increases the risk of developing diseases like heart disease, emphysema, stroke, and even colorectal cancer.
Avoid alcohol or drink moderately, if at all.
If you drink alcohol, drink moderately. You should limit your alcoholic drinks to two a day if you are a man and one a day for women. However, it is best to avoid alcohol as it increases the risk of colorectal cancer. If you are a heavy drinker, talk to your doctor about healthier ways to quit.
Limit your intake of red meat
According to research, eating too much red meat like steak, pork, and hamburger increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Also, avoid processed meats like bacon and sausages as they increase the risk even more. Ideally, try not to eat more than three servings per week.
Be physically active
It is good to get at least 30minutes of workout every day. You can start slowly and gradually work your way up, especially if you have been inactive for a long time.