What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a term used for cancer that starts in the colon or the rectum. These cancers can also be referred to separately as colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they start.


What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?

A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease such as cancer.

Lifestyle-related factors

  • Certain types of diets : A diet that is high in red meats (such as beef, pork, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (hot dogs and some luncheon meats) can increase colorectal cancer risk
  • Physical inactivity

If you are not physically active, you have a greater chance of developing colorectal cancer.

·       Obesity

If you are very overweight, your risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer is increased. Obesity raises the risk of colon cancer in both men and women, but the link seems to be stronger in men.

·       Smoking

Long-term smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop and die from colorectal cancer.

·       Heavy alcohol use

Colorectal cancer has been linked to the heavy use of alcohol.

·       Other risk factors

·       Age

Younger adults can develop colorectal cancer, but the chances increase markedly after age 50

·       Personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer

If you have a history of adenomatous polyps (adenomas), you are at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.

·       Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, is a condition in which the colon is inflamed over a long period of time. If you have IBD, your risk of developing colorectal cancer is increased.

  • Family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps: increases the chances of having colorectal cancer. (Please refer below)
  • Racial and ethnic background: African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the United States.(to be deleted)

Family history of Colorectal Cancer

There are more chances of having Colorectal Cancer if one or two close relatives have suffered from Colorectal Cancer. There is a need to consult an Oncologist and discuss about understanding the risk and programme of regular check up in other family members. Special tests may be required.

Can colorectal polyps and cancer be found early?

Tests used to screen for colorectal cancer include:

  • Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) and fecal immunochemical test (FIT): Samples of stool (feces) are checked for blood, which might be a sign of a polyp or cancer.
  • Stool DNA test: A sample of stool is checked for certain abnormal sections of DNA (genetic material) from cancer or polyp cells.
  • Sigmoidoscopy: A flexible, lighted tube is put into the rectum and lower colon to check for polyps and cancer.
  • Colonoscopy: A longer, flexible tube is used to look at the entire colon and rectum.
  • Double contrast barium enema: This is an x-ray test of the colon and rectum.
  • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy): This is a type of CT scan of the colon and rectum.


Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in the stool which may make it look dark
  • Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

How is colorectal cancer diagnosed?

  • Blood tests
  • Colonoscopy
  • Ultrasound
  • Biopsy
  • Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan

How is colorectal cancer treated?

The main types of treatment that can be used for colon and rectal cancer are:

Depending on the stage of the cancer, 2 or more of these types of treatment may be combined at the same time or used after one another.

Minimal Invasive Colorectal Surgery

In todays world all colorectal surgeries are performed laproscopically that is Minimally Invasive way. Patients are discharged early and join back work at the earliest.

 What happens after treatment for colorectal cancer?

Follow-up care

Your doctor will probably recommend a physical exam every 3 to 6 months for the first 2 years after treatment, then every 6 months or so for the next few years. People who were treated for early-stage cancers may need less frequent exams.


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