Colorectal cancer can refer to either colon cancer or rectal cancer. The condition happens when a few of the cells lining the rectum or the colon become abnormal and start growing to create a tumor. It begins as a small polyp, which can be detected during regular cancer screening at low-income health clinics. Generally, colorectal cancer does not show any symptoms at the initial stage, but it can lead to many problems after it has spread. Below are some of the common signs of colorectal cancer.

Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

The signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer usually depend upon where the tumor is located. In most cases, the patient will experience changes in bowel movements, such as constipation or diarrhea that do not do away normally, as well as cramping in the rectum, rectal bleeding and/or dark patches of blood in/on the stool, bloating, stomach discomfort, fatigue, pelvic pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, etc.

Some patients may also feel as if they cannot empty their bowels completely, which is known as tenesmus. In a few cases, the patient may have long, thin, and stringy stools. Sometimes, the patient may even experience an abnormally low number of red blood cells in the body, leading to anemia. This happens because of the excessive bleeding in the intestines.

It is important to note that many other conditions can also cause these symptoms. Therefore, it is recommended to consult with a specialist at the nearest affordable health clinic for proper diagnosis. The doctor may suggest a rectal exam to check your condition. In some cases, you may also be asked to have a sigmoidoscopy or a colonoscopy to determine whether it is colorectal cancer.

Risk Factors

The American Cancer Society advises all people above 45 years of age to undergo regular colorectal cancer exams. This is especially important if you are more prone to getting it. This way, tumor growth can be stopped before it spreads and makes things worse.

Colorectal cancer can happen to anyone, but it is more frequently seen in people above the age of 50. It is also found that men are more likely to develop the condition. Another common risk factor of colorectal cancer is the presence of polyps, known as adenomas. These small growths can be precancerous and can be the first step to causing colon and/or rectal cancer.

Aside from that, the diet and lifestyle can also lead to colorectal cancer in some cases, especially if the person consumes a lot of cholesterol and fat, and little to no fiber. Excessive alcohol use and smoking are also seen to be potential risk factors of colorectal cancer. To learn more about colorectal cancer, ask a doctor at your nearest oncology clinic.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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