Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the bowel. This includes the colon and some parts of the rectum. A malignant tumor has the ability to spread from its place of origin to other regions of the body. This process is known as metastasis. The exact cause of this disease isn’t known yet, although some factors have been identified. Studies have shown that genetics play an important role in the development of the disease. A tumor starts developing when there is a mutation in the genes that control the growth of cells. The mutated cells grow uncontrollably, and rapidly. This disease usually starts out as an aggregation of benign cells. These cells combine together to form polyps. However, these polyps eventually grow to become malignant. Some of the signs and symptoms of this disease include gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea, constipation, and an alteration in the consistency of stool, which could persist for a long time. Patients also present with symptoms such as tiredness, unexplained loss of weight and so on. Some of the risk factors of colorectal cancer include smoking, living a sedentary lifestyle, obesity. There are also diseases that increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Some of the diseases include inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, familial adenomatous polyposis and so on. Physicians diagnose this disease by taking a sample of the colonic tissue. This is mostly done through colonoscopy. Medical imaging is done subsequently to this. A biopsy might be carried out to confirm the diagnosis. There are medications that can reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Examples of these drugs include aspirin, ibuprofen and so on. Physicians treat this disease through a combination of methods. Some of these methods include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and so on. This disease is most curable if detected early. However, it’s important to know that the more severe the disease is, the more incurable it becomes. Colorectal cancers that have spread beyond the colon is mostly incurable, while the ones that remain in the bowel can be cured. Genetics researchers are currently looking for ways to target and destroy the cancer stem cells of colorectal carcinoma. These cancer stem cells are responsible for the uncontrolled proliferation of the tumor cells. This when successfully accomplished will save a lot of lives.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Colorectal Cancer?
There are various signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer. Below are some of the common ones;
- People affected with colorectal cancer do present with digestive problems. Examples of this include constipation, diarrhea. Others include the change in the consistency of the stool, which might persist for a long time.
- The patient might have blood in their stool. This condition is known as hematochezia.
- Cachexia (Loss of weight): This is a condition in which patients lose a significant amount of weight without any explainable cause.
- Patients might also have a feeling that their bowel isn’t completely empty.
It’s important to know that some colon cancer patients do not present with any signs and symptoms until the disease gets to the advanced stage.
What Are the Causes of Colorectal Cancer?
The exact cause of colorectal cancer is not known. However, some factors have been identified to be responsible for the development of the disease. Genetics plays a significant role in colorectal cancer. As it mostly occurs as a result of a mutation of some genes. Other factors that contribute to the development of the disease include old age, gender, smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, living a sedentary lifestyle, and so on. Infections have also been noted to contribute to the development of the disease — organisms like Streptococcus gallolyticus, Streptococcus bovis and so on.
What Are the Risk Factors of Colorectal Cancer?
There are some factors that increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer;
- Age: Studies have shown that colorectal cancer is more common in people that are old. However, this disease also occurs in young people.
- Race: Colorectal cancer occurs in the African, African-America, and Caribbean race. Although it also affects other races, it’s usually less prominent.
- Family history: An individual with a family history of colorectal cancer have a high risk of also developing the disease.
- Lifestyle: Studies have shown that those that live a sedentary lifestyle have a higher risk of having the disease.
- Obesity: Colorectal cancer occurs more in people that are obese, and overweight, as compared to people with a normal
- Alcohol: People that consume an excessive amount of alcohol have a high risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Exposure to radiation: The prolonged and excessive exposure to radiation leads to the development of colorectal cancer.
- Diabetes mellitus: This is a metabolic disease in which the person involved develops insulin resistance.
How Is Colorectal Cancer Diagnosed?
Physicians diagnose this disease by evaluating the presenting signs and symptoms of the patient. In addition to this, further tests such as colonoscopy are also done. In a colonoscopy, some samples of the patient’s tissue are taken and checked for the presence of malignant cells. The biopsy is also done, to confirm the diagnosis. It’s important to go for regular checkups if you have a high risk of developing the disease. Examples of people with a high risk of developing the disease include those with a family history of colorectal cancer, smokers and so on.
How Is Colorectal Cancer Treated?
Physicians treat this disease through a combination of methods. Some of these methods include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and so on. This disease is most curable if detected early. However, it’s essential to know that the earlier the disease is detected and treated, the better the prognosis. This is why it’s important to constantly go for medical consultations if you’re above the age of 50, and also have a family history of the disease.
Stem Cell Therapy And Colorectal Cancer
Genetics researchers are currently looking for ways to target and destroy the cancer stem cells of colorectal carcinoma. These cancer stem cells are responsible for the uncontrolled proliferation of the tumor cells. This when successfully accomplished will save a lot of lives
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Zeuner, A., Todaro, M., Stassi, G. and De Maria, R. (2014). Colorectal Cancer Stem Cells: From the Crypt to the Clinic. Cell Stem Cell, 15(6), pp.692-705.Get More Stem Cell Information at iSTEMCELL