What Are The Symptoms Of Colon Cancer?
Unfortunately, early cancers have no symptoms. By the time a patient with colorectal cancer presents with symptoms, 60% of them would be in the more advanced stages of cancer (stages 3 or 4). Some of these sinister symptoms include:
- Change in bowel patterns
- Blood or mucus in stools
- Unexplained and persistent abdominal pain or distension/bloating
- Unexplained loss of weight and appetite
How Can Colon Cancer Be Prevented?
Hence, it is important that those who are at risk undergo screening for colorectal cancer before any symptoms develop. Generally, screening with colonoscopy should start at 50 years old or 10 years younger than the age of onset of cancer in the family. In individuals with a strong family history defined as multiple first-degree relatives with colorectal cancer or polyps or an individual in the family less than 60 years old, colonoscopy should start at 40 years old or 10 years younger than the youngest diagnosed individual in the family, whichever is earlier. Screening for colorectal cancer has been proven to save lives. In the United States and European countries, colorectal cancer mortality has been falling, and this has been attributed to screening, early detection and prevention by polyp removal before they turn cancerous.
How Are Colon And Rectal Cancers Treated?
Surgery for colorectal cancer is the only curative option. Depending on the size, location and stage of the cancer, radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy are sometimes needed to increase the chance of long-term survival. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or CT scan is sometimes done before surgery to better demonstrate the anatomy of the tumour and its surrounding structure. Surgery can be performed via the traditional open approach (with a long cut/incision down the abdomen) or laparoscopically (keyhole).