Colorectal cancer is the third most lethal cancer in both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society. It is for this reason that it is so important to be screened for it. As with all cancers, the earlier it is detected and treated, the more likely it is to be successful. In order to detect colorectal cancer, you must be aware of the signs and symptoms to look for, as well as the procedures used by doctors. The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer, as well as the screening methods that can be used to determine if you have the disease.
Colorectal cancer signs and symptoms include:
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult your physician.
Intestinal bleeding or blood in the stool
- Constipation or diarrhea that lasts for more than a few days
- Feeling like you need to have a bowel movement but not feeling relieved when you do
- Abdominal pain or cramping that lasts for more than a couple of days Weakness and fatigue
- Weight loss when you were not attempting to lose weight
- Pains of any kind that doesn’t go away
In most cases, these symptoms-can-be-explained-away by other factors such as a virus, an infection, hemorrhoids, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). You should consult your physician if these symptoms persist in order to rule out any other possibilities.
Colorectal cancer is a disease that frequently manifests itself without any symptoms. The signs and symptoms of colon cancer can vary depending on where in the colon the cancer is located at the time of development. If you are over the age of 50 or if you have a family history of the disease, you should be more concerned.
Colorectal cancer screening tests
If you present with any of the symptoms listed above, your doctor will conduct a thorough family history examination. He or she will feel around in your stomach to see if he or she detects any masses. It is possible that he will order some blood tests to determine what is going on, such as a CBC (Complete Blood Count) to check for anemia, liver enzymes to check your liver function because colorectal cancer can spread to the liver, and tumor markers in someone who has colorectal cancer or has had it in the past.
If the presence of cancer symptoms or the results of these tests indicate that the patient has cancer, further testing-is-recommended. This is usually accomplished through a colonoscopy, but it can also be accomplished through a sigmoidoscopy or an imaging test that includes a barium enema and a lower GI series. This aids doctors in their screening for polyps.
Colorectal cancer is diagnosed during a colonoscopy by taking a small piece of tissue and examining it under a microscope. In-extremely-rare-cases, a section of the colon may-need-to-be-surgically-removed (a section that is less commonly used) in order to make the correct-diagnosis.
In addition, scans such as a CT scan may be performed as part of the procedure. This test is increasingly being used to determine whether colon cancer has spread to other organs, such as the liver. Body soft tissues are visualized in great detail using this technique.
It is possible that an ultrasound will be performed in order to look for tumors; however, in most cases, this will only reveal tumors in the liver, gallbladder, or pancreas. It is not capable of detecting tumors in the colon. An endorectal ultrasound, in which a special transducer is inserted into the rectum, may be recommended by your doctor in this situation. This allows the doctor to see deep into the rectal wall to determine whether or not the cancer has spread, as well as the lymph nodes and other nearby organs.
A screening test for colorectal cancer can be performed if you do not have any symptoms of the disease but are over a certain age or have a family history of the disease. Colorectal polyp and cancer detection tests are ideal because they detect both polyps and cancer.
This way, if polyps are discovered, they can be removed during the screening process, thereby reducing the likelihood of them developing into cancer. Tests that examine the stool can be used for a less invasive form of screening. Polyps, on the other hand, are not discovered by this method.
Colonoscopy is the most common screening procedure used to detect polyps and cancer in the colon. The CT scan and the barium enema, on the other hand, are used to screen for polyps and cancer.
Tests such as the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) are used to screen specifically for cancer. Fecal matter is screened for occult blood, which cannot be-seen with the naked eye and is therefore classified as such. It would be necessary to perform a colonoscopy if there is blood in the stool in order to determine where exactly the bleeding is coming from.
Consult with your doctor to-find-out what he recommends-based on your symptoms (or lack thereof) and your family history of disease. Although colorectal cancer is the third most lethal cancer, new tests and screenings have increased overall survival rates.