It is estimated that over 2 million people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year worldwide. The risk factors for developing bowel cancer vary from person to person and include age (over 50 years old), family history of the disease, lifestyle choices such as smoking and poor diet, alcohol consumption, being overweight or obese, physical inactivity and certain medical conditions like inflammatory bowel disease or polyps.
What is Bowel Cancer?
Bowel cancer is also known as colorectal cancer. It is a type of cancer that affects the large intestine (colon) and the small intestine (rectum). It is one of the most common types of cancer in the world. The disease occurs when cells in the colon or rectum divide and grow abnormally, forming a tumour. If the tumour is not treated, it can spread to other organs and cause serious health problems.
What are The Symptoms of Bowel Cancer?
The most common symptom of colorectal cancer is bleeding from the bottom (rectal bleeding). This can happen even if there are no other symptoms and can often be mistaken for piles (haemorrhoids).
Other symptoms may include:
- Blood in your stools (faeces)
- A change in your normal bowel habits, such as more frequent or looser stools, or constipation
- Abdominal pain
- Fatigue (tiredness) and weight loss
How is Bowel Cancer Diagnosed?
There are a few different ways that doctors can diagnose bowel cancer. These include:
- Colonoscopy: The most common way is by doing a colonoscopy. This is where a long, thin tube with a camera on the end is inserted into your rectum and up through your colon. Your doctor will be able to see any abnormal growths or areas of concern and take biopsies (small samples) if needed.
- CT scan: A CT scan is an imaging test. It uses X-ray technology to create detailed images of your internal organs. It can be used to help diagnose colorectal cancer and see if it has spread to other parts of your body.
- Blood tests: CEA Carcino Embryonic Antigen Tests in blood or other body fluid are often used in combination with other diagnostic tests to help determine if you have colorectal cancer. These tests measure levels of certain proteins in your blood that may indicate cancer.
- MRI scan: Similar to a CT scan, an MRI scan uses strong magnets and radio waves to create an image of your internal organs. This can also help identify any areas of concern in the bowel.
- Biopsy: A biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of tissue is taken from the bowel for examination under a microscope. This can help to confirm the diagnosis of bowel cancer and determine what type it is.
Who is at Risk of Developing Bowel Cancer?
There are many risk factors for developing colorectal cancer, some of which can be controlled and others that cannot.
- Some of the controllable risk factors include smoking, diet, and exercise. Other controllable risk factors include family history and age. The biggest controllable risk factor for developing colorectal cancer is smoking.
- People who smoke are more likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who don’t smoke. Diet is also a big factor in developing colorectal cancer. People who eat a lot of processed meats and red meats are more likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who don’t eat these meats.
- Exercise is also a big factor in preventing bowel cancer. People who exercise regularly are less likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who don’t exercise regularly. Family history is also a big factor in developing colorectal cancer.
- If you have a family member with colorectal cancer, you are more likely to develop the disease yourself. Age is also a big factor in developing colorectal cancer. The older you are, the more likely you are to develop the disease.
How is Bowel Cancer Treated?
- There are several different ways that colorectal cancer can be treated. This depends on the stage of the disease and the patient’s overall health. Surgery is often the first line of treatment for bowel cancer. It may be combined with other treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
- In early-stage colorectal cancer, surgery may be all that is needed to remove the cancerous growth and prevent it from spreading. More advanced cases may require more extensive surgery, such as the removal of part of the large intestine, as well as additional treatments to kill any remaining cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy is often used in combination with surgery to treat bowel cancer, and may also be used as a standalone treatment for advanced cases. Radiation therapy may also be used in combination with other treatments to target and kill cancer cells.
The decision on which treatment or combination of treatments to use will be made by the patient’s medical team based on several factors. These include the stage of the disease, the location of the tumour, and the patient’s overall health.
Can Bowel Cancer be Prevented?
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent colorectal cancer, there are several things you can do to lower your risk.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid processed meats and high-fat foods.
- Maintain a healthy weight and get regular exercise. Third, if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
- Don’t smoke. These lifestyle changes may not prevent bowel cancer entirely, but they can certainly lower your risk.
Colorectal cancer is a serious and life-threatening condition. It affects many people. But with the right knowledge, it can be diagnosed early and treated effectively.
It’s important to stay informed about your health so you can make sure any issues are addressed quickly and effectively – if something doesn’t seem quite right, then speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
For a dependable and quick diagnosis of bowel cancer, you can rely on us at Metropolis Healthcare. We offer an extensive range of tests that can help diagnose a wide range of diseases, including cancer. Contact us today to book a slot!