Know your risk for colorectal cancer

Colon cancer

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States for men and women separately. When you combine the genders, it’s the second leading cause of death. It is expected to cause about 49,700 deaths during 2015.

Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last several inches of the colon. Together, they’re often referred to as colorectal cancers.

Most colorectal cancers develop slowly over several years. Before a cancer develops, a growth of tissue or tumor usually begins as a non-cancerous polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. A tumor is abnormal tissue and can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). A polyp is a benign, non-cancerous tumor. Some polyps can change into cancer but not all do. The chance of changing into a cancer depends on the kind of polyp.

Risk factors for colorectal cancer:

  • Diet (High in red and processed meats)
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Age
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Diabetes
  • Personal/Family History
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms appear, they’ll likely vary, depending on the cancer’s size and location in your large intestine.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer:

  • Change in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of stool
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in stool
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
  • A feeling that your bowel doesn’t completely empty
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

Treatment options for colorectal cancer depend largely on the stage of the cancer. The primary treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted drug therapy. Spectrum Health Cancer Center’s Colorectal Multispecialty Team offers multidisciplinary care of patients with cancers of the bowel including large intestines, colon, rectum, and appendix. They will develop a personalized plan of care and guide you every step of the way.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer and would like a consultation or second opinion, call 1.855.SHCANCER (855.742.2623).

Spectrum Health Colorectal Cancer Care program
Lemmon-Holton Cancer Pavilion
145 Michigan St. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Comments are closed.