February 2018, Orlando, Fla. — There are multiple reasons why we emphasize so much in early detection. Here in our medical center, we have worked hard to offer diagnostic services to help detect signs that require attention at an early stage.
Colorectal cancer can strike both men or women and is the second cause of deaths here in the U.S. The good news is that it is highly curable!
It doesn’t always have early warning signs, but it is important to get it checked. If you are already feeling abdominal pain, find blood in your stool, have an unusual constipation or diarrhea, fatigue, lose weight and don’t know why or have bathroom related issues — this is when you need to have a conversation with your primary care physician. It could be a sign of a tumor that is now growing bigger and will be harder to treat.
When abnormal cells grow in the lining of the large intestine (also known as the colon) or the rectum, that is when colon cancer begins. Your doctor will check you up for polyps in the intestines. Despite being harmless, polyps can turn into colorectal cancer if not removed promptly. Adenomas and hyperplastic polyps are the most common types.
Age (50+,) polyps or an inflammatory disease and family history of colorectal cancer or precancerous colon polyps are some of the risk factors that you are unable to control. That is exactly the reason why people should have a colonoscopy every 10 years once they turn 50. The factors that you have a better control of are; for example, not exercising enough, smoking, alcohol abuse, obesity and now this:
eating a lot of red or processed meats, especially if cooked at high temperatures.
The American Cancer Society recommends a diet heavy on fruits and vegetables, light on processed and red meat, and with whole grains instead of refined grains. That will help you keep a healthy weight.
Among the screenings your doctor might recommend are:
- A colonoscopy
- Barium enema
- A flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Fecal blood tests
- DNA test (there are some services available to do it yourself at home)
In those cases where tumors are detected, the next step is to perform a biopsy to determine if it is cancerous. If cancer is in fact detected, your doctor will determine the stage that you’re in. The stages are the following:
Stage 0: Cancer is in the innermost lining of the colon or rectum.
Stage I: The disease has grown into the muscle layer of the colon or rectum.
Stage II: Cancer has grown into or through the outermost layer of the colon or rectum.
Stage III: It has spread to one or more lymph nodes in the area.
Stage IV: It has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, or bones.
It is important to know that colorectal cancer can still sometimes be cured even if it has spread to your lymph nodes (stage III). Treatment typically involves surgery and chemotherapy.