5 Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer and 7 Risk Factors!
The colorectal cancer is the third cancer more common worldwide, accounting for 9% of all incidences of cancer and the fourth most common cause of death. It is a bit more common in men. Until recently, it was thought that colorectal cancer primarily affected people over 50. However, we now know that cancer incidences are decreasing in people over 50, but they are increasing in the younger population. As cancer is often detected in the younger generation only after having reached an advanced stage, knowledge about colorectal cancer symptoms and risk factors can make all the difference. Colorectal cancer is silent in most cases, with cancer lurking anywhere along the path 1.5 to 2.5 m long from the colon to the rectum. It does not present any revealing symptoms in the initial stages. This is what makes detection essential. In an advanced stage, colorectal cancer symptoms include:
1. Change in Bowel Habits:
You may notice a change in your bowel habits, which can last more than a few weeks. You may feel that your bowel has not been completely emptied. You may try to pass stool several times a day, but this is unlikely to free you from feeling.
2. Change in Bowel Movement:
You can evacuate watery stools as with diarrhea. Or you may have difficulty evacuating stool as with constipation. Frequently, diarrhea and constipation episodes may alternate.
3. Narrow Stools:
Stool may narrow due to blockages in the colon and rectal canal.
4. Blood and Mucus in the Stool:
If you do not have hemorrhoids or irritable bowel disorders, the presence of persistent blood in the stool or in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement requires a checkup. Bright red blood can indicate cancer in the rectum or in the last part of the colon, while dark or black stools indicate higher cancer in the colon. There could be mucus too. Some amount of mucus in the stool is not uncommon. But a persistently large amount of mucus in the stool, along with blood or changes in bowel habits, indicates an infection or inflammation. Your body produces a lot of mucus to heal itself.
5. Abdominal Pain, Bloating and Nausea:
You may experience intestinal obstruction, which causes pain, discomfort, swelling, nausea and vomiting after eating. Symptoms may be present at each meal for a few weeks. This in turn reduces appetite and food intake, which causes weakness, fatigue and weight loss.
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer Against Hemorrhoids, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and IBD Symptoms
Colorectal cancer may be even harder to detect because it shares similar symptoms with these conditions. This is what makes the detection of colorectal cancer so crucial after the age of 50 and in some cases even earlier.
- Hemorrhoids also cause bleeding during bowel movement. But the bleeding is often erratic. However, with colorectal cancer, bleeding may persist for a few weeks or occur along with pain.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause diarrhea, constipation and abdominal cramping. But if these are accompanied by bleeding, whether or not you have hemorrhoids, you should seek medical help.
- Irritable bowel disorders, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, have symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea and bleeding. Patients often complain that they have not been able to empty the intestine completely and feel the need to try again and again. These patients also suffer weight loss. Patients with IBS who have had colitis for 8 years or who have 1/3 or more of their compromised colon are at high risk and should be screened for cancer. It is very difficult to differentiate between IBS and colorectal cancer based on symptoms.
Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer:
Approximately 75% of all colorectal cancers are caused by sudden genetic mutations and environmental or lifestyle risk factors.
1. Very Few Vegetables and Fruits:
The lack of fiber in your diet often leads to the accumulation of toxic waste in the colon.
“These release reactive molecules called free radicals that damage cells and trigger inflammation”.
If you do not eat enough vegetables, green leafy vegetables and fruits that have antioxidants such as flavonoids and carotenoids to fight free radicals, you are becoming more vulnerable to cancer risk. The lack of vitamin B9 or folate, vitamin D and calcium has been considered responsible for the increased risk of cancer. Folate allows the formation of new cells and tissues and keeps red blood cells active and healthy. Foods rich in magnesium such as spinach and pumpkin seeds also help. Daily consumption of garlic is also considered effective in reducing the risk of cancer.
2. Too Much Red or Processed Meat:
Red meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer, especially colon cancer. When heated to high temperature, these animal fats and proteins break down into certain amines and hydrocarbons that cause cancer. In addition, red meats such as pork, veal, beef and lamb contain heme iron, which is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. However, grass-fed beef has compounds that fight cancer. Processed meat such as cold cuts is even more insecure. This is one of the reasons why this cancer is so common in rich and developed countries.
3. Too Much Alcohol:
The onset of cancer, especially in the last part of the colon or in the distal part, is earlier in people who drink than in the general population. Unfortunately, this is true even for light drinkers. You have a 21% higher risk of colorectal cancer if you drink more than two drinks. If you have more than 3.5 drinks a day, you are 52% more likely to get colorectal cancer. For every 10 g that is poured through the throat, the risk of cancer increases by 7%.
Alcohol Breaks Down into Toxic Substances:
Alcohol breaks down into acetaldehyde, which accumulates in the colon. It can degrade vitamin folate in the mucous cells that line the inside of the colon, up to 48%. Acetaldehyde further damages DNA and generates reactive molecules called free radicals that damage cells and increase the risk of cancer. Acetaldehyde can also function as a solvent and help cancer molecules penetrate the mucous cells of the colon. This negative effect of acetaldehyde accumulation is even more pronounced in East Asians. Some of them have a mutation in the alcohol metabolism gene, as well as in the gene that transforms acetaldehyde into non-toxic byproducts. As a result, the risk of colon cancer from alcohol is higher in this population.
4. Smoking Tobacco:
In the United States, of every 100 victims of this disease, 12 are to blame for smoking. A Norwegian study reports that women who smoke are 20% more likely to get colon cancer than their counterparts who have never smoked. Unfortunately, even passive smokers can get colorectal cancer and earlier than others. Where appropriate, the screening test should be performed at 40 years.
Nicotine Spreads Cancer:
Tobacco contains carcinogenic substances such as nicotine and its compounds, including NNK. These can induce the growth of cancer cells and cause cells to travel throughout the body, affecting other areas. The risk decreases when you stop smoking. And the sooner I quit, the better.
5. Physical Inactivity and Overweight:
Physical inactivity and excess body weight together account for about 25 to 33% of the incidence of colorectal cancer, and overweight men have a higher risk of colon cancer than overweight women. This can be changed. Moderate or intense exercise can reduce the risk of colon cancer by 13 to 41%. Exercise increases the metabolic rate and oxygen intake and improves stretching and contraction of the intestinal muscles. This keeps the intestine healthy and efficient.
6. Hereditary Diseases and Conditions:
Colorectal cancer is primarily environmental in nature. Prolonged exposure to environmental risk factors causes DNA to suddenly mutate in a few places and trigger the growth of cancer cells. But inherited genes also play an important role. Up to 20% of patients with colorectal cancer report that they have relatives with colorectal cancer. Of these, between 5 and 10% have two inherited cancerous conditions: familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and hereditary non-polyposal colorectal cancer (CCHNP). The others get colorectal cancer due to shared environmental factors.
If a parent has PAF, you have a 50% risk: If even one of the parents has benign tumors in the colon, a genetic condition known as familial adenomatous polyposis, there is at least a 50% chance that you will get the condition. If left untreated, FAP always progresses to colorectal cancer. In the classic form of the disease, polyps begin to develop when you are in adolescence. If this is not treated, you can have more than 100 polyps at the age of 39. This is the average age at which a person with classic FAP develops colon cancer. Sometimes, the development of polyps can be delayed. This is called attenuated PAF. In this case, the onset of your colorectal cancer can be postponed until you are 55 years old.
Having CCHNP in the family increases the risk by 50%: Let’s say your brother has been diagnosed with Lynch syndrome or hereditary colorectal cancer without polyposis (CCHNP). Because you come from the same group of parents, one of whom obviously has this condition, you also have a 50% higher risk of inheriting Lynch syndrome. It does not present any symptoms in itself, but it makes it vulnerable to a series of cancers, mainly of the colon and rectum. If you are a woman, Lynch syndrome also puts you at risk of uterine and ovarian cancer. Lynch syndrome accounts for about 3-5% of the total incidence of colorectal cancer in the United States. In most people with this condition, colorectal cancer is diagnosed around 45 years of age.
Having irritable bowel disorders: If you have ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, stay alert. There is a 4 to 20 time’s greater risk of the inflammatory condition getting worse and becoming colorectal cancer.
7. Be Over 50 Years Old:
Both men and women have a high risk of colorectal cancer once they are 50 years old. In fact, 90% of people with colorectal cancer are 50 or older, with many more people in the age group 60 to 79 than in the age group 40 or younger. As one gets older, genetic mutations due to physical, chemical and biological risk factors begin to affect changes in the body. In addition, the cell repair mechanism weakens with age. As a result, there is an increase in new growths of colorectal tissue, both benign and malignant. But there is a delay in the death of these cells. So cancer grows and spreads quickly. However, the figures are changing rapidly and there are more young people affected by the disease. Now, those born in 1990 have 2 times the risk of colon cancer and 4 times the risk of rectal cancer than those born in 1950. This is possibly due to a greater exposure to environmental or lifestyle risk factors. Children are also not totally immune if there is a family history of colorectal cancer, colon tumors and Lynch syndrome.
Screening Tests and Lifestyle Changes are Mandatory:
Although you can prevent colorectal cancer with changes in your lifestyle, screening tests are mandatory once you turn 50. This is the average age at which the disease begins to manifest itself. Have a colonoscopy and other tests to detect hidden or hidden blood in the stool. Sometimes, no trace of blood can be seen with the naked eye. Colonoscopy will detect if there are polyps or abnormal growths of tissue in the colon. These are the precursors of cancer. Additional tests can determine if these polyps are benign or malignant.