Our bowels are not something we tend to talk about, so let’s start this important conversation. What is colorectal cancer? Colorectal cancer is also called bowel cancer. This cancer starts in the large bowel. The NHS says bowel cancer is the general term for this type and, depending on the original location of it within the body, it is sometimes referred to as colon or rectal cancer or indeed, colorectal cancer. How common is colorectal cancer? It is one of the most common cancers here in the UK with most people diagnosed with it over the age of 60.
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
Signs of colorectal cancer, present for 3 weeks or more, can include:
- Change to bowel habit and frequency – persistent, having to pass stools more and passing runny stools
- Spasmodic (sudden, jerky) lower tummy pain – persistent, plus bloating or discomfort. Sometimes linked with loss of appetite or even significant and unintentional weight loss
- Blood in stools – persistent, happening for no clear reason or associated with bowel habit changes
- Chronic constipation
These symptoms do not always mean bowel cancer as other conditions can cause them, too. If you are older and noticing that the situation is not improving even after simple treatments, then get tested. Pall Mall can help with accurate and innovative testing, so book an appointment, today.
What causes Colorectal Cancer?
The exact cause of colorectal cancer remains undetermined but there are colorectal cancer risk factors affecting your chances of developing it.
- Age – nearly 9 in 10 people with it are aged 60 or over
- Diet – eating a considerable amount of red and processed meats plus having a diet low in fibre, can increase risk
- Weight – this cancer is more common in those overweight or suffering from obesity
- Exercise – inactivity heightens risk
- Alcohol – drinking alcohol may increase risk
- Smoking – may also increase risk
- Family history – a close relative (mother, father, brother, sister) who developed it under the age of 50 means you are at a greater lifetime risk. Discuss colorectal cancer screening with your GP if this affects you
- Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease – if you have either of these conditions extensively, (for more than 10 years), this increases risk
Treatments for Colorectal Cancer
Bowel cancer screening is available on the NHS for everyone between the ages of 60-74, registered with a GP and living in England. This age group receives a bowel cancer screening home test kit, every 2 years.
Colorectal cancer treatments include surgery (keyhole or robotic options are available), chemotherapy, radiotherapy and targeted therapies. The NHS says that, as with most types of cancer, the chance of a complete cure depends on how far it has spread by the time of diagnosis.
Do not wait if you are worried. Colorectal cancer detection starts with testing and the sooner this begins, the better. Pall Mall offer tests, scans and diagnostics including ColoAlert® to ascertain whether your symptoms are due to the development of colorectal cancer.