Colorectal cancer (CRC), which is also known as colon cancer and bowel cancer, is one of the most common cancers. It is the cancerous growth, tumor or lump in the rectum or colon. It usually begins as a benign tumor, mostly as a polyp, and then becomes cancerous. Polyps, which are very common, are cell growths inside the colon. The abnormal growth of the cells may become malignant and spread or invade other organs and parts of the body. Colorectal cancer is caused mostly due to lifestyle and old age. Other risk factors include lack of physical activity, smoking, obesity, diet and drinking alcohol. It is also caused if a person suffers from inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Some people develop colorectal cancer due to genetic factor. Colorectal cancer is more common in developed countries. Here’s everything you need to know about colorectal cancer. (ALSO READ Cancer symptoms in men: Do not ignore these early symptoms of cancer in men).

What are the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer?

The symptoms of colorectal cancer may include constipation, diarrhea, blood in stool, frequent urge to pass stool, fatigue, weight loss, vomiting, bloating and pain in the abdomen, iron deficiency and a lump in the stomach.

What are the causes of colorectal cancer?

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The causes of the colorectal cancer include old age, obesity, lack of physical activity, alcohol consumption, red meat, fat, processed meat and smoking. Drinking more than one drink per day increases the risk and drinking five glasses of water per day decreases the risk of colorectal cancer.

Another factor is heredity. There are several genetic syndrome associated with increased rates of colorectal cancer. Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), Gardner syndrome and hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC or Lynch syndrome) are associated with colorectal cancer.(ALSO READ Heart disease and obesity in 2016 India reflects Germany’s battle 15 years ago).

The risk of colorectal cancer increases if a person has inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The risk is higher if the person has the disease for a longer period of time or the inflammation is severe.

How to prevent colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer can be prevented by regular screening. If your family has a history of colorectal cancer, then it becomes important for you to undergo screening for the disease at regular intervals. Another important thing to do is to exercise regularly. Workout at least three times a week or go for 30-minute walk daily to decrease the risk of colorectal cancer. It is essential to maintain an ideal body weight to stay healthy. Also, avoid packaged and processed food to maintain a healthy life. Include fresh vegetable and fruits in your diet and drink lots of water. (ALSO READ What are the signs of breast cancer: Watch out for these warning signs of breast cancer).

What are the treatment available for colorectal cancer?

Treatment for colorectal cancer depends on the location and size of the tumor, the overall health of the patient, the severity, stage of the cancer and on whether it is recurrent or not. Doctors may suggest treatment options like radiation therapy, surgery, targeted therapy and chemotherapy. Sometimes, a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy is ordered by the doctor after the surgery to decrease the chances of recurrence. The cancer is more common in men as compared to women.

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