Bowel cancer, more commonly known as colorectal cancer, can affect any part of the colon or rectum, which together are known as the large bowel. Depending on where the cancer is located, it may also be referred to as rectal cancer or colon cancer.
The colon, which is approximately the first two yards of the large bowel, is responsible for absorbing water, while the last six inches store waste materials until they are passed out the body through the anus.
Bowel cancers usually start out as benign growths called polyps. Left undetected or untreated, these polyps can become malignant, developing into cancerous tumors and lesions that can spread beyond the bowel to other parts of the body.
Here are some facts about bowel cancer to help you better understand your risk, identify signs and symptoms, and understand your treatment options.
Risk Factors for Bowel Cancer
Bowel cancers can affect men and women at any age, although the risk increases significantly after age 50. Family history also has a strong impact on risk, with about one-third of all cases having a genetic or family connection. Because bowel cancer, in its very early stages, has few symptoms, if you have a family history of the disease or are over 50, it is best to discuss the advantages of getting regular screenings with your doctor.
DIET AND LIFESTYLE.
Besides age and family history, diet and lifestyle choices can increase your risk of developing bowel cancer. Smoking, alcohol consumption, and being overweight are all risk factors. Consuming red meat, as well as charred or processed meats, may further contribute to your risk.
Those with gastrointestinal diseases such as irritable bowel symptom, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease may find themselves at a higher risk of getting bowel cancer. The same is true of those who have Type II diabetes as well as certain cancers that affect that region of the body such as anal or ovarian cancer.
Signs & Symptoms of Bowel Cancer
Signs and symptoms of bowel cancer often present as more mundane conditions. But if you are experiencing any of the following, especially in combination with each other and you haven’t been checked out, it is recommended you do so immediately.
Be sure to tell your doctor if you are:
- Experiencing any sort of bowel blockage, as tumors tend to obstruct the colon; this often is confirmed with a CT scan followed by emergency surgery. Ironically, tumors on the left side of the colon often cause diarrhea that alternates with constipation accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Many confuse these symptoms with other less serious gastrointestinal diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease.
- Feeling any sort of dull, vague abdominal aching, which could mean you have a tumor or lesion on the right side of your bowel.
- Anemic; the low red blood count can cause blood loss and fatigue.
- Cramping, or feeling pain in the abdomen, rectum, or anus.
- Bleeding from the rectum or if you notice bloody stools.
- Experiencing bowel movements that are more narrow than usual – or any severe, persistent changes in bowel habits
Fecal immunochemical tests (FIT) can identify blood in the stool that may not be able to be seen by the human eye, which can be an early sign of bowel cancer.
FIT is easily and conveniently performed at home simply by placing a small sample of soiled toilet water or stool sample onto a special card, then mailing that card back to the pathology lab or dropping the card off at your doctor’s office. Negative tests mean there is no blood detected in the stool, but that bowel cancer screenings should continue on a regular basis, especially for those with risk factors for the disease. Positive results are typically confirmed with follow-up diagnostic testing such as a colonoscopy.
If there are signs of a bowel blockage, surgery may be recommended. Other forms of treatment include chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of the two.
CyberKnife Radiation Therapy has also been proven to be highly effective in the treatment of bowel and other cancers.
CyberKnife is a noninvasive, advanced radiosurgery technique available to treat cancerous and noncancerous tumors and lesions nearly any where in the body. CyberKnife works by delivering high dosages of radiation to specific parts of the body to destroy tumors. There is no pain, no incisions and no scarring. CyberKnife is effective because it dissolves tumors while not affecting any of the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. Thousands of Floridians are calling CyberKnife the Beam of Life™.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with bowel cancer, consider being treated at the CyberKnife Center of Miami. We are the most experienced and qualified CyberKnife treatment team in South Florida and have treated more than 3,500with highly successful outcomes.
If you are seeking alternatives to conventional cancer surgery or radiation therapy, call the CyberKnife Center of Miami today to see if it’s right for you. Call us today at www.cyberknifemiami.comto schedule your appointment and go to our website to learn more