Key Information About Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer begins when healthy cells in the lining of the colon or rectum change and grow out of control, forming a mass called a tumor.
The exact cause of colorectal cancer is not known, but it can be caused by DNA mutations that turn on oncogenes or turn off tumor suppressor genes.
This results in cells growing out of control. Changes in many different genes are usually needed to cause colorectal cancer.
Certain risk factors, including diet, tobacco smoking and heavy alcohol use, are strongly linked to the disease.
The risk of colorectal cancer increases as people get older. Colorectal cancer can occur in young adults and teenagers, but the majority of colorectal cancers occur in people older than 50.
Tests have shown that around a third of people who develop colorectal cancer also have the bacterium, which has the name Fusobacterium nucleatum. Their cancer also tends to be more aggressive, but it was not clear why until the recent study.
A paper that now features in the journal EMBO Reports reveals how the microorganism promotes the growth of cancer cells but not that of noncancerous cells.
The blue cancer ribbon is symbolic of colon and colorectal cancer.
Symptoms of this cancer depend on its size and location. Some commonly experienced symptoms include blood in the stools and/or bleeding from the rectum, a change in bowel habit lasting longer than six weeks, severe stomach pain, lumps or a mass in the abdomen, weight loss, and fatigue.
Due to advances in screening techniques and improvements in treatments, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been falling.
In general, patients with colon cancer receive post-operative chemotherapy if the lymph nodes are positive.
For rectal cancer, most patients who have positive nodes or who have tumors that extend into the fat surrounding the rectum receive chemotherapy plus radiation before surgery.
Treatment is also tailored to the patient's age, medical history, overall health, and tolerance for specific medications and therapies.
Combining chemotherapy with targeted therapy helps improve outcomes in advanced stages, and pathway analysis is critical to planning treatment. Mutations in KRAS, APC, TP53 and extended RAS panels are some of the commonly studied alterations. The Cancer Genome Atlas Network and other research teams have identified newer set of genes that could be mutated in colorectal cancer, thereby contribute to treatment resistance.— Dr. Sewanti Limaye
Include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in your diet. Avoid red meat and processed meats. Do yoga daily.
Since most colorectal cancer develops from non-cancerous polyps - growths on the lining of the colon and rectum - screening methods can detect and remove polyps BEFORE they become cancerous.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Srikanth R