Colorectal Cancer Symptoms & Prevention
Over 1.3 million people are living with colorectal cancer, with almost 150,000 new cases of colon cancer or rectal cancer each year. Since 2012, cases of colorectal cancer have increased 2% annually in people under the age of 50 1. Why are younger people at an increased risk for colon cancer? What can you do to prevent colorectal cancer? We’ll discuss all of this and more!
What Is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. According to the American Cancer Society’s colorectal cancer statistics, there will be approximately 52,980 deaths related to this disease in 2021 2.
Colorectal cancer is a blanket term to cover cancer of the bowels. There are two types of colon cancer. Their classification is dependent on where the cancerous cells started spreading.
Colorectal cancer can be classified as:
- Colon Cancer (Begins In Colon/Large Intestine)
- Rectal Cancer (Begins In Rectum, At End of Large Intestine)
No matter what, the issues lie in the large intestine. That’s where your body absorbs water and minerals from your foods. Everything else is waste and gets extinguished out the backend.
How Do Colorectal Cancerous Cells Develop?
Our large intestines are composed of cells that are continuously dividing to create a stronger colon lining. In time, genes can mutate, creating noncancerous cell clumps known as polyps.
Daughter DNA cells will then inherit this gene mutation. It creates a snowball effect of cell division that makes the polyps grow larger. Left untreated, these polyps can create an environment conducive to cancer growth.
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
Polyps don’t always manifest with symptoms. Therefore, some people could grow a tumor and not be aware until it’s too late. It’s important to pay attention to your body and keep note of any changes to your wellness. Being proactive is the most effective way to beat rectal or colon cancer.
Colorectal cancer symptoms include:
- Change in Bowel Frequency
- Different Stool Consistency
- Rectal Bleeding
- Bloody Stool
- Sharp Abdomen Pain
- Consistent Bloating and Gas
- Rapid Weight Loss
- Extreme Fatigue
Traditionally, colorectal cancer is common in elderly people. However, incidences of younger people developing this disease have become increasingly common.
What Causes Colorectal Cancer?
There are many factors that increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Some of these factors are lifestyle choices. Making changes to your daily routine can be effective in colorectal cancer prevention.
Common risk factors associated with colorectal cancer include:
- Smoking and Alcohol Abuse
- Family History of Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP)
- Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD: Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease)
- Family History of Hereditary Nonpolyposis (Lynch Syndrome)
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Poor Dietary Choices
- Ethnic Predisposition
It is important to talk to a close family member and learn about your genetic history. These conversations will hold the key to forming a wellness action plan with your physician.
How to Treat Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer treatment is dependent on how far the cancer has spread. There are three different stages that require unique interventions.
Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer
This stage is when the cancer is most manageable. These procedures are very common and have very few risks associated with them.
- Polypectomy: Removes Polyps Through A Colonoscopy
- Endoscopic Mucosal Resection: Removal of Larger Polyps with Tools During A Colonoscopy
- Laparoscopic Surgery: Minimally Invasive Surgery Through the Abdominal Wall
Early detection is essential for preventing the spread of cancerous cells. There is a high recovery rate for early-stage colorectal cancer intervention.
Moderate to Advanced Colorectal Cancer
As cancer spreads, it replicates at a quicker pace. Doctors must be more aggressive and take action quicker.
Most commonly, your doctor will recommend a partial colectomy. That’s when they remove the part of the colon affected by cancer, along with any surrounding tissue.
Next, you will probably have to go through one of these surgeries:
- Laparoscopy: Reconnecting Healthy Portions of Colon and Rectum
- Ostomy: Creating A Wall in Abdomen to Eliminate Stool Into A Bag
You want to avoid reaching advanced colorectal cancer because it can alter the way you live your life forever. It’s essential you are proactive and get a screening with your doctor regularly.
Advanced Colorectal Cancer
Advanced colorectal cancer is the most life-threatening and will require intensive intervention.
Treatment for advanced colon cancer may include:
- Radiation Therapy
Please don’t hesitate to seek a physician’s care if you ever notice any changes to your wellness. Listen to your body!
Colorectal Cancer Prevention
There are some changes you can make to your lifestyle to decrease your chances of colorectal cancer. Let’s take a look at some cancer prevention methods you can add to your routine easily!
Knowing your status is the first step of prevention. Your doctor can help make health projections based on your screening and discuss any potential risk factors. It’s important to have an open dialogue with your doctor about your health.
Eat More Fiber
Your large intestine needs fiber to help flush out toxins. Dietary fibers create a strong bond with bile residing in the intestine. This binding wraps up toxins, fats, and cholesterol that bog down the system.
The best way to get more fiber is to eat whole gluten-free grains, dark green vegetables, avocados, berries, and apples.
Maintaining a healthy weight is an excellent way to prevent colorectal cancer. There are many studies that tie obesity to colorectal cancer.
Obesity causes long-term inflammation that destroys healthy cells. It bogs down your immune system and creates stress on your gut lining. In turn, this inflammation creates more room for the rapidly dividing cancerous cells to grow.
Studies show that there is a strong connection between gut dysbiosis (leaky gut) and colorectal cancer 3. Research indicates that people are less likely to develop colorectal cancer if their gut is teeming with bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids, namely butyrate.
Probiotic bacteria consume dietary fiber and reward us with metabolites, like butyrate. Butyrate gives endothelial cells that line the gut energy to grow stronger. These short-chain fatty acids heal the gut barrier and prevent the onset of leaky gut syndrome.
One meta-analysis about clinical trials involving the gut microbiome and colorectal cancer noted,
“The intake of high-fiber diets and the supplementation of diet with polyunsaturated fatty acids, polyphenols and probiotics, which are known to regulate gut microbiota, could be not only a potential mechanism for the reduction of CRC risk in a primary prevention setting, but may also be important to enhance the response to cancer therapy when used as adjuvant to conventional treatment for CRC 4.“
At Ombre, we have an at-home gut test kit that helps you create a diverse gut microbiome. By knowing which gut bacteria are in your stool, we can determine ways to make it more diverse. That way, you have enough butyrate-producing bacteria to help maintain your gut’s integrity.
We also provide you with a database of recipes, rich in fibers and carbohydrates that will feed the butyrate-producing bacteria we’re trying to help you grow. With this knowledge, you can make more educated decisions about your wellness routine that are conducive to colorectal cancer prevention.
- 1 “What is Colorectal Cancer?: How Does Colorectal Cancer Start? American Cancer Society, 29 June 2020, www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/what-is-colorectal-cancer.html.
- 2 “Colorectal Cancer Statistics: How Common is Colorectal Cancer?” American Cancer SOciety, 12 Jan. 2021, www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/key-statistics.html.
- 3 Kosumi, K., Mima, K. Baba, H., & Ogino, S. (2018). Dysbiosis of the gut microbiota and colorectal cancer: the key target of molecular pathological epidemiology. Journal of laboratory and precision medicine, 3, 76. https://doi.org/10.21037/jlpm.2018.09.05.
- 4 Sánchez-Alcoholado, L., Ramos-Molina, B., Otero, A., Laborda-Illanes, A., Ordóñez, R., Medina J. A., Gómez-Milán, J., & Quelpo-Ortuño, M. I. (2020). The Role of the Gut Microbiome in Colorectal Cancer Development and Therapy Response. Cancers, 12(6), 1406. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12061406.