Most colon cancer, or colorectal cancer, begins as a small growth in the bowel wall called colorectal adenoma. If left untreated, colon cancer can grow into the muscle layers underneath and then through the bowel wall, according to Dr. Auchai Kanjanapitak, a General and Colorectal surgeon at Vejthani Hospital.
Symptoms can include blood in the stool, narrower stools, a change in bowel habits and general stomach discomfort. The symptoms of colorectal cancer depend on the location of the tumor in the bowel, and whether it will metastasize. Rectal bleeding or unexplained anemia could be high-risk features of colorectal cancer. Those who have the tendency to get this kind of disease are those who have a family history of cancer, obese and chain smoker.
There are many modalities for screening colorectal cancer, for example, stool occult blood test or endoscopic exam. One of the most used diagnostic modalities is Colonoscopy. For colorectal cancer, surgery remains the primary treatment, while chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy may be recommended depending on the individual patient’s cancer stage and other medical factors.
In the past, when the patients were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, they had to undergo a major operation which ended up with a large abdominal wound or ostomy (an artificial opening of intestine on the abdominal wall). Nowadays, having a surgery is not that frightening anymore, unlike in the past because of the advanced laparoscopic and endoscopic techniques.
If colorectal cancer is caught at early stages it can be cured with an endoscopic intervention that would not leave any abdominal wound. Even in the patients who need the resection or the surgical removal of the colon, the surgery is done with advanced minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques which are more precise and cause less pain.
Dr. Auchai pointed out that colorectal cancer can often be prevented by regular screening, lifestyle and diet modification. As the saying goes “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”, it is better to prevent or stop unwanted health conditions than deal with it later.
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