Warning Signs of Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer occurs in the colon or rectum of the body. The colon is part of the large intestine and the rectum is the passageway connecting the colon and anus together.
This type of cancer is the third most common in the United States. So, understanding the warning signs of colorectal cancer is specifically important to early detection and proper diagnosis.
- Blood in the stool – This is one of the most prominent signs of colorectal cancer, because of where tumors form, blood can pass through the body as fecal matter.
- Inconsistent bowel movements – While some irregularity is common as you age, if you start to notice constipation, diarrhea or incontinence, it’s best to see a doctor.
- Becoming anemic – People who experience anemia alongside other symptoms should consider this a warning sign to seek help.
- Abnormal abdominal pain – If pain is consistent, unexplainable and sudden, it is a definite cause for concern. Pay special attention if abdominal pain is accompanied by vomiting.
- Weight loss – While there are many factors that can contribute to sudden weight loss, if it is accompanied by any other symptoms, it’s important not to ignore it.
As with anything else, you know your body and you know if something doesn’t feel right. Colorectal cancer is very common in the elderly and risk factors increase with age. Getting regular colonoscopies or stool tests can aid in early diagnosis.
Risk Factors of Colorectal Cancer
There are several contributing factors that determine the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer. Some of these factors can be avoided with proper diet, exercise, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but some factors are uncontrollable.
The leading risk factors of colorectal cancer include:
- Genetics and family history
- Racial and ethnic background
- Poor diet and nutrition
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Alcohol use
- Medical history (diabetes, IBD and history of polyps)
Treatment of Colorectal Cancer
The specific course of treatment for this type of colon cancer can vary based on each individual person and stage of diagnosis. Finding colon cancer at its earliest stage presents the best chance for a cure.
The three major options for the treatment of colorectal cancer are as follows:
- Surgery – If it is early-stage cancer or the cancer is very small, doctors may recommend a non-invasive surgery to remove the polyp. If colorectal cancer has progressed, more extensive surgical procedures may be required.
- Chemotherapy – Typically used as a supplement to surgery, chemotherapy can help to destroy any leftover cancer cells that may still be present in the body. It is also to help prevent the likelihood of recurrence.
- Radiation Therapy – X-ray radiation can sometimes be used to shrink large tumors prior to surgery. It can also help to relieve symptoms associated with colorectal cancer.
Help is Always Available with McGregor PACE
The PACE, Program for the All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly, program is a nursing home alternative that provides for the long-term medical, social and personal care needs of seniors.