Bowel Cancer which is also called Colorectal Cancer is the third most common cancer in the world and the second cause of death due to cancer.

Large Bowel Cancer which is also called Colorectal Cancer is the third most common cancer in the world and the second cause of death due to cancer. Symptoms may go unnoticed or are misread, and hence when the cancer is detected, it may be in the advanced stage, making it difficult to cure.


Colorectal Cancer Symptoms


Some common symptoms of Colorectal Cancer are:


  • Rectal Bleeding
  • Persistent Abdominal pain
  • Anaemia
  • Narrow, ribbon-like stools
  • Unexplained weight loss

However, since some of these symptoms are associated with other medical conditions, the possibility of it being Colorectal Cancer is often overlooked. Patients also, tend to self-medicate to manage symptoms or ignore them completely. This is why it is important to create awareness about Colorectal/ Bowel Cancer – to encourage those at risk to get screened regularly.


Who is at risk for Bowel Cancer?


  • Those aged 50 and above.
  • Those with a family history of Colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Those with Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Those with type 2 diabetes
  • Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Those whose diet is high in red and/or processed meats
  • Alcohol consumption and smoking tobacco, also increase one’s risk for colorectal cancer.

Eight Important, Lesser Know Facts About Colorectal Cancer


  • #1

    As the name suggests Colorectal Cancer affects the large bowel, which comprises of the colon and rectum. Most often bowel cancer develops from polyps in the colon or rectum. They are considered pre-cancerous growths, but not all polyps develop into cancer.

  • #2

    Colorectal Cancer is a slow-growing cancer. This means that the polyps grow on the inner walls of the colon for considerable time before turning cancerous. This is why routine screening for Colorectal Cancer via a colonoscopy can help detect cancer earlier on.

  • #3

    When detected in its early stages, Colorectal Cancer can be treated successfully. Given that it is a slow-growing cancer, those at risk, particularly those aged 50 and those who fall under the high-risk category, need to be routinely screened. In the early stages when cancer has not spread outside the colon, the survival rate is 90%.

  • #4

    Smoking leads to Colorectal Cancer. While smoking is most often only associated with causing lung cancer, it also increases one’s chances of colorectal cancer. A study showed that long-term smokers are more like to develop and die from colorectal cancer than non-smokers.

  • #5

    Developed countries are at higher risk for colorectal cancer. In 2020 China, the USA and Japan had the highest number of cases and deaths from Colorectal cancer. A main reason for this could be the diet. The risk for colorectal cancer is higher amongst those who consume a lot of red and/or processed meat.

  • #6

    Obesity, in general, is an unhealthy condition and it increases one’s risk for a number of diseases. It has been found that obesity increases a person’s risk for colorectal cancer. A high-fat diet has a direct impact on the stem cells which play a significant role in tumour initiation. Rigorous exercise to eliminate excess body fat helps prevent bowel cancer due to obesity.

  • #7

    A colonoscopy serves as an efficient screening test for colorectal cancer. Given that Colorectal cancer is a slow growing cancer but has next to no symptoms in the early stages, screening at regular intervals can help detect cancer before it gets out of hand. Since, Colorectal cancer is an age-related cancer, those above 45 years of age can check with their doctor on when/whether they need to do a colonoscopy to screen for cancer.

  • #8

    Anyone can get bowel cancer, with age being the number risk factor. However, studies show that by a slight margin, the disease affects more men than women. The exact reason remains unknown. However, with routine screening after the age of 45, cancer can be prevented.

Adopting healthy habits, quitting harmful ones, being aware of bodily changes and getting screened as per your doctor’s advice, is the best way to beat Colorectal Cancer. Awareness about the disease, screening methods and treatment options are key to bringing down the number of Colorectal Cancer related deaths.


CONSULTANT - SURGICAL ONCOLOGIST at Dr.Kamakshi Memorial Hospitals
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