Early Warning Signs of Rectal Cancer Everyone is too embarrassed to talk about it
Rectal cancer is cancer that begins in the rectum. The rectum is located at the end of the large intestine, several centimeters long. The rectum begins at the end of the last part of the colon and ends at the short and narrow canal that leads to the anus.
Cancer inside the rectum (rectal cancer) and cancer inside the colon (colon cancer) are often referred to together as “rectal and colon cancer”.
Although rectal cancer and colon cancer are very similar, their treatment is very different. This is mainly because the rectum is in a narrow position and cannot be separated from other organs and structures. Surgery may be performed on this narrow site to remove a precancerous nodule in the rectum.
In the past, long-term survival for people with rectal cancer was rare, even after aggressive treatment. Thanks to advances in treatment over the past few decades, survival rates for patients with rectal cancer have improved dramatically.
Signs and symptoms of rectal cancer include:
- A change in the frequency of your bowel movements, such as diarrhea, constipation, or frequent bowel movements
- The presence of blood in the stool in a dark brown or bright red color
- thin stools
- Feeling that the bowel is not completely empty
- Unexplained weight loss
- weakness or tiredness
When should you see a doctor?
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have persistent symptoms that worry you.
Rectal cancer occurs when changes (mutations) occur in the DNA of healthy cells in the rectum. A cell’s DNA contains the instructions that tell the cell what to do.
These changes cause cells to grow out of control and continue to live even after healthy cells have died. These cells can accumulate and form a tumor. Over time, cancer cells can grow to invade and destroy nearby healthy tissue. Cancer cells can break away and spread to other parts of the body.
It is not known why the cancerous mutations occur in most cases of rectal cancer.
Inherited genetic mutations that increase the risk of colorectal cancer
In some families, gene mutations passed from parents to children increase the risk of colorectal cancer. These mutations represent only a small percentage of rectal cancers. Certain genes associated with colorectal cancer also increase the risk of developing the disease, but do not make it inevitable.
There are two well-defined genetic syndromes of colorectal cancer:
Lynch syndrome. Lynch syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), increases the risk of colon cancer and other cancers. People with Lynch syndrome tend to develop colon cancer before the age of 50.
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). FAP is a rare disease that causes thousands of polyps in the lining of the colon and rectum. People who are not treated for FAP are more likely to develop colon or rectal cancer before the age of 40.
Genetic testing can detect this syndrome and other rare hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes. And if you’re concerned about your family history of colon cancer, ask your doctor if your family history indicates that you’re at risk for these conditions.
The risk of rectal cancer and colon cancer increases due to the same factors. Risk factors for colorectal cancer include:
the elderly. Colorectal cancer can be diagnosed at any age, but the majority of people diagnosed are over 50 years old. However, the incidence of colorectal cancer in people under the age of 50 is increasing, but doctors have not yet discovered the cause.
African Americans. People of African descent born in the United States are more likely to develop colorectal cancer than people of European descent.
A personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps. If you have ever had rectal cancer, colon cancer, or adenomatous polyps, you are at increased risk of colorectal cancer.
Inflammatory bowel disease. Chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon and rectum, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
Genetic syndromes that increase the risk of rectal cancer. Genetic syndromes passed down from generation to generation in your family can increase your risk of colorectal cancer, including familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and Lynch syndrome.
You have a family history of colorectal cancer. The risk of colorectal cancer increases greatly if one of your parents, siblings or children has had colorectal cancer.
Follow a diet low in vegetables. Too few vegetables in the diet and too much red meat may be associated with colorectal cancer, especially when the meat is charred or overcooked.
Do some exercises. If you are inactive and inactive, you are more likely to develop colorectal cancer. Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of cancer.
Diabetic. People with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes may have a higher risk of developing colon cancer.
obesity. People who are obese are more likely to develop colon cancer than people of a healthy weight.
smoking. Smokers are at an increased risk of colon cancer.
to drink alcohol. Drinking more than three alcoholic drinks per week on a regular basis can increase your risk of colon cancer.
Radiation therapy for a previous cancer. Radiation therapy directed at the abdomen to treat previous cancers may increase the risk of colon cancer.
To reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, try the following:
Talk to your doctor about cancer screening. Colorectal cancer screening reduces the risk of cancer by identifying precancerous polyps in the colon and rectum that can develop into cancer. Ask the doctor when to start the examination. Most medical organizations recommend starting screening at age 45 or younger if you have risk factors for colorectal cancer.
Several screening options are available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Discuss your options with your doctor, and together you can decide which tests are right for you.
Work out most days of the week. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days. If you are not doing any activity, start slowly and gradually increase the duration to 30 minutes. Also, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that may play a role in preventing cancer. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables to get a wide range of vitamins and nutrients.
Maintain a healthy weight. If you are at a healthy weight, maintain it by exercising regularly and choosing a healthy diet. If you are overweight, try to lose weight slowly by doing more exercise and reducing the number of calories you eat.
stop smoking. If you smoke, stop smoking. If you are having trouble quitting smoking, talk to your doctor about your options. Medicines and counseling can help.
Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation, and preferably not at all. If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.