Cancer » Bowel Cancer
Bowel cancer is one of the major kinds of cancer and is not limited to any gender, area or other physical factors. Anyone can be prone to the disease and almost an equal number of cases have been detected among both men and women.
Nature of the disease
Bowel cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer that mainly affects the bowel. It is more commonly known as the colorectal cancer. Many a times, it is confused with anal cancer as both the organs are inter-linked but anal cancer is different and originates primarily from the anus. Bowel is basically the muscular tube connecting the stomach and anus. Smaller and larger bowels are the two main types of bowels. Smaller bowel performs the function of food digestion and is narrower in size as compared to the larger one. The larger bowel consisting of the colon performs the main function of absorbing water, salts and the necessary vitamins from the feces. There is another important organ called rectum that acts as a provisional storage site for the feces.
The cancer in the bowels normally originates in the rectum or the colon. Larger bowel is more prone to this cancer than the smaller one. Also, the cases of the cancer originating in the smaller bowel are almost negligible.
The disease mainly develops due to an uncontrollable and unexpected behavior of the cells. The cancerous cells spread rapidly by damaging the tissues and thus, hinder the normal cell-growth process. They form tumors in the infected areas and disallow the regeneration of normal cells. The cancer usually develops in the bowel lining and then spreads to the other areas gradually. In most of the cases, the infection begins with a benign tumor. Benign tumor is usually harmless and does not kill tissues or spread rapidly. Also, the tumors are not at all a threat to life.
But if the tumor is developed due to the cancerous or malignant cells, it may spread to other parts of the body and may cause severe irreversible damage. These malignant cells are highly destructive and damage the tissues badly. Also, they replace the live cells and cease the process of cell-growth in that particular area. Also, it is important to consult your physician even in the case of benign tumor as it may develop into a cancerous tumor gradually if left untreated.
If the cancerous cells are not removed in time, they get separated from the parent tumor and travel to other parts of the body. They mainly move through the lymph vessels or veins and form tumors in some of the vital areas like the lungs or lymph glands. There is no specific age group in which the colorectal cancer is detected. Though majority of the cases of this disease have been detected in the people above 65 years of age, the disease may also occur in the young people. Apart from the rectum and colon, the disease may also originate from the appendix; the tumor originating in the appendix is also known as 'carcinoid'. But the cases of carcinoid are rare and undergoing appendicectomy does not really decrease the chances of getting infected by the cancer.
General awareness about bowel cancer
You need to be thoroughly aware of the disease you are dealing with and must have the knowledge of its causes and symptoms. This not only helps in detecting the disease faster but also benefits considerably in getting the right kind of treatment. Age is the most important factor in getting prone to the disease. Most of the patients suffering from the disease are above 50 years old and the chances of its occurrence increases with age. Also, a family history of the colorectal cancer makes a person highly prone to the disease.
Smoking is another vital cause of getting infected by the disease. According to a study, non-smokers are considerably less vulnerable to colorectal cancer as compared to smokers. Smoking men are 30% more likely and smoking women are 40% more likely to die from the disease as compared to the non-smokers. Also, excess consumption of alcohol can be risky.
Diet is another important factor to consider if you wish to keep away from the colorectal cancer. Green vegetables, fruits and salads are highly recommended as they improve your immunity system considerably. Consuming too much of red meat is harmful for the health. Also, high intake of vitamin B reduces the risk of getting affected by the disease. Regular exercise and maintaining appropriate body weight is extremely important.
Detecting bowel cancer is easy if proper attention is paid to the symptoms or the abnormalities in your health. If you are bleeding through the back passage without any known reason, you must consult your physician immediately. Also, development of tumors in your bowel may restrict it from functioning and later lead to diarrhea. Severe constipation is another symptom. It may lead to pain in the abdomen and vomiting. Abdominal pain gets severe if the bowel is blocked completely by the tumors and an immediate surgery is necessary to curb the infection.
Unexpected weight loss also needs urgent attention. The weight loss is generally due to decrease in the appetite but may be connected to the prime symptoms. At times, the tumor may lead to slow but consistent bleeding over a long period. This gradually causes iron deficiency leading to anemia and the victim may also experience pallor or fatigue.
Bowel cancer has many inter-related symptoms. Occurrence of a symptom doesn't guarantee the presence of cancerous cells but a thorough physical examination is necessary to eliminate the risk factor. Various techniques like the biopsy, X-rays, digital rectal exam, colonoscopy, CT (Computed Tomography) scan, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan and fecal occult blood examination are available for proper diagnosis. Also, surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are some of the proven line of treatments to cure the disease.