To understand colorectal cancer, it’s important to know the meaning of the colon and the rectum. These two are part of the digestive system. The colon is a long muscular tube that connects the small intestine to the rectum. The colon and the rectum together make up the large intestine. This function of this organ is to process waste so that eliminating waste materials would be easy and comfortable. Colorectal cancer can be described as one that affects either the rectum or the colon. This occurs when one of the cells that line the colon or the rectum grows abnormally, and out of control. These abnormal cells develop to form a tumor. Many cases of colon cancer usually begin as small, noncancerous aggregation of cells, referred to as adenomatous polyps. These cells grow to become adenomatous polyps. Some of the signs and symptoms of this include loss of weight, body weakness, fatigue, bloodstained stool, change in the bowel movement, and so on. Most colorectal cancers occur as a result of old age, and other factors. Some of these factors include genetic disorders, and factors such as diet, obesity, smoking, and so on. In addition, there are some factors that increase the risk of developing this disease. These factors include the consumption of red and processed meat, alcohol, inflammatory bowel disease and so on. This disease can be diagnosed by taking a sample of the colon and rectum. Other methods include medical imaging, especially when cancer has spread. People between the ages of 50-75 are advised to undergo regular screening, as it is more prevalent in old people. There are some drugs that reduce the risk of developing the disease. They include aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Colorectal cancer can be treated with a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and so on. However, cancers that have spread beyond the colon might not be treatable. The prognosis of colorectal cancer largely depends on the severity and the stage of the disease. Stem cells and exosomes are potential ways of treating this disease. Genetics researchers are currently looking for ways to target and destroy the cancer stem cells of colorectal carcinoma
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer usually doesn’t present with any signs and symptoms in the initial stage. Signs and symptoms tend to manifest at the later stage of the disease. This is why it’s important to go for regular check-ups if you have a high risk of developing the disease. Below are some of signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer;
- Alteration in bowel movements: This includes consistent diarrhea that won’t leave.
- Rectal bleeding: People affected by this disease usually present with bleeding and cramping.
- Abdominal discomfort
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Patients experience pain in the pelvic region
- Patients do experience bowel movement, and can’t empty their bowels entirely.
- Prolonged tiredness
People affected by this disease usually do not experience symptoms in the initial stage of the disease. However, they start presenting with symptoms at the later stage of the disease. The severity of the signs and symptoms depends on the size and location of a tumor in the intestine.
What Are The Causes Of Colorectal Cancer?
A large proportion of people affected. There are some factors that affect the development of this disease. Some of these factors include disease are age, sex, overweight, smoking, alcohol consumption. Some of the causes of this disease are as follows;
- Inflammatory bowel diseases: Inflammatory bowel diseases include Ulcerative colitis and Crohn diseases. These diseases increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. The duration of the inflammatory bowel disease has a direct link to the risk of having cancer.
- Heredity: People with a family history of colorectal cancer, have more chances of developing the disease. According to studies, they have a two to three increased chances of having colorectal cancer. Also, some genetic syndromes have been linked to the development of this disease. An example is Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. This disease occurs in about 3% of the people affected by cancer. Another inherited colorectal cancer syndrome is familial adenomatous polyposis. This is a disorder that leads to the development of polyps in the lining of the large intestine. This disease develops colorectal carcinoma, especially when it’s not well treated.
What Are The Risk Factors Of Colorectal Cancer?
There are some factors that increase the risk of colorectal cancer;
- Age: It has been noted that the older people get, the more their risk of developing colorectal cancer. Although it also affects young people, the disease is more prevalent in adults, especially in people above the age of 50 years.
- Race: According to studies, this disease is more prevalent in African-American people, as compared to people from other races.
- Family history: People that have relatives that were affected by this disease have a higher chance of having colorectal cancer. This is worse, especially when it’s the parents or a direct sibling.
- Lifestyle: People who don’t exercise, or take part in regular exercises have more chances of developing colorectal carcinoma.
- Alcohol consumption: The heavy consumption of alcohol increases the risk of having colon cancer.
- Metabolic cancer: People affected by diabetes mellitus have more chances of developing colon cancer.
- Low-fiber, high-fat diet: Colorectal cancer has been associated with diets low in fiber, high in fat and calories. In addition, studies have shown that people that consume a large amount of red and unprocessed meat have an increased risk of developing the disease.
- Radiotherapy: Cancer patients that have undergone radiotherapy have a high risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Obesity: Obese people have a high risk of developing this 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