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Colorectal cancer (colon or rectal cancer): Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

  • Posted on- Aug 28, 2015
  • 497 Views

Cancer that starts in the colon is called colon cancer and cancer that starts in the rectum is called rectal cancer. Cancers affecting any one of the organs may be termed as colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer develops when some of the cells that cover the colon or the rectum become irregular and multiply uncontrollably. This abnormal growth leads to formation of a tumor, which is the cancer.

Symptoms related to Colorectal Cancer
 
Initially, colorectal cancer doesn’t show any signs or symptoms. The symptoms develop as the cancer grows, some of which includes:


Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer
 
Oncologists recommend that when you hit 50 years of age, you should be screened regularly for colorectal cancer. There are several options including the conventional digital rectal exam which involves collection of three stool samples for testing of traces of blood. If anything comes abnormal, a colonoscopy is performed where complete evaluation of the colon and rectum with a scope or long, flexible tube is done.

Tissue samples or biopsies are also done to check for any suspicious-looking areas and the sample is then sent for lab analysis.

If a biopsy confirms cancer, imaging tests using chest X-rays and CT scans of the abdomen, pelvis, and possibly chest are performed to find out whether the cancer has spread to other areas.

Your oncologist will also order blood tests to find out how well the liver and kidneys are performing, to decide if you are anemic, and to measure the blood level of a substance called carcino embryonic antigen (CEA).

Available treatments for Colorectal Cancer
 
Now that you are confirmed for colorectal cancer, the next step would be to choose the best available treatment. Thankfully, you can explore a slew of options. Your doctor will advise you on the best approach to take. Treatments may include the following, alone, or in combination:
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Biological Therapy

As with any cancer treatment, a team approach is required to treating colorectal cancer. Alongside receiving care from nurses, social workers and counselors, and dieticians, you may also be treated by a team of specialized doctors.

After receiving a diagnosis of colorectal cancer, it is normal to feel stressed. You may experience trouble while sleeping, body aches and exhaustion. With the right education and supportive care, you will be able to deal with the diagnosis and treatment of your cancer effectively.