Risk increases with age.
Race and Ethnicity
African-Americans have the highest risk of being diagnosed with, and dying from, colorectal cancer
About 20 - 25% of colorectal cancers occur among people with a family history of the disease. People who have more than one first-degree relative (sibling or parent) with the disease are especially at high risk.
- Dietary Factors.
- A diet high in red and processed meats increases the risk for colorectal cancer.
- Diets high in fruits and vegetables appear to be associated with reduced risk.
- Alcohol and Smoking. - increased risk for colorectal cancer.
- Obesity - increased risk for colorectal cancer, especially for men.
- Physical Inactivity. A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Regular exercise may help reduce risk.
- Adenomatous Polyps. - increased risk
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease. - include Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis, long-term inflammation caused by these chronic disorders can increase the risk for colorectal cancer.
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy diet low in meat and high in fruits and vegetables
- Do not smoke, and do not drink alcohol
- Regular colorectal cancer screenings
- Abdominal discomfort such as gas, bloating, and cramps
- Rectal bleeding or blood in stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Weakness and fatigue Changes in bowel movements, such as diarrhea or constipation, or change in consistency of stools
- Feeling that the bowel has not emptied completely after a bowel movement
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or
- Colonoscopy every 10 years, or
- Double-contrast barium enema (DCBE) every 5 years, or
- CT colongraphy (CTC), also called virtual colonoscopy, every 5 years
- Stool tests must be repeated at regular intervals and a colonoscopy must be performed if stool test results are abnormal.
- Biopsy During a colonoscopy, a tissue sample removed.
- Blood Tests To evaluate the red blood cell count and check for anemia.
- Tumor markers include carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and CA 19-9.
- Imaging Tests To detect the presence of cancer or find out how far the cancer has spread. These tests include ultrasound, chest x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan, and computed tomography (CT) scan.
- Surgery is used for early-stage colorectal cancer. Usually, the tumor is removed along with part of the colon and nearby lymph nodes.
- Chemotherapy may be given after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. It may also be given along with radiation before surgery to reduce tumor size.
- Radiation therapy is commonly used to treat locally advanced cancer, combined with chemotherapy.
The most curable of cancers when it is caught in its early stages. The 5-year survival rate for colon cancer diagnosed and treated at stage I is 93%. The rates fall to 72 - 85% for stage II, 44 - 83% for stage II, and 8% for stage IV.
- Physical Examination. Every 3 - 6 months for the first 2 years, every 6 months through the fifth year, and yearly thereafter.
- Colonoscopy. 1 year after surgery. If the results are normal, then next colonoscopy 3 years later and then every 5 years.
- Carcinoembryonic Antigen Levels. Measured every 3 -6 months after surgery for 2 years in patients, and then every 6 months up to 5 years
- Imaging Tests. An annual computerized tomography (CT) scans of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis for the first 3 years after treatment.
- Complete blood count, liver function tests, and fecal occult blood tests.
In the earliest stages of colorectal cancer (stage 0 and some stage I cases) polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy in a procedure called polypectomy.
- Colectomy involves removing the cancerous part of the colon and nearby lymph nodes.
- The Surgical Approach.
- Open Surgery: Taking wide incision on the abdomen.
- Laparoscopy: Taking small incisions on the abdomen and using laparoscope is used for early cancers.
- The procedure generally involves creating a stoma, through the abdominal wall that is connected to the colon. The feces passthrough this passage and are eliminated.
- Permanent colostomies are more common when the cancerous regions are within 2 - 3 centimeters of the anus.
- Local Excision or Polypectomy for Early Stages.
- Radical Resection. In this lower part of rectum along with surrounding structures, including the sphincter muscles that control bowel movements, must often be removed.
Radiation therapy uses x-rays to kill cancer cells that might remain after an operation or to shrink large tumors before an operation so that they can be removed surgically.
- If you have:
- Black, tar-like stools
- Blood during a bowel movement
- Change in bowel habits
- Pelvic examination by oncosurgeon.
- Blood investigations to look for anemia.
- Ultrasound of abdomen.
Low-fat and high-fiber diets may reduce your risk of colon cancer.