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Colorectal Cancer: Understanding the Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options

Colorectal Cancer: Understanding the Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options


Colorectal cancer is classified into four stages: stage 0, stage I-cancer in the inner layers of the colon, stage II-cancer spreads through the muscle wall of the colon, stage III-cancer spreads to lymph nodes, and stage IV-cancer spreads to other organs.
  • Author Name: Jitendra
Editor: Jitendra More Last Updated: 11-Apr-2023

Colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer or rectal cancer, is a type of cancer that affects the colon or rectum. It is the third most common cancer in both men and women worldwide, with an estimated 1.8 million new cases and 900,000 deaths in 2018 alone. In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly found and lethal cancers developed in individuals with the combined influence of genetic and environmental factors. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), colorectal cancer is the third most prevalent form of cancer, with ~1.93 million global cases in 2020, and an increase of ~70% in colorectal cancer cases worldwide is expected by 2030. Furthermore, according to the National Institute of Health, colorectal cancer (CRC) accounts for over 9% of all cancer incidences and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide in 2020. Furthermore, colorectal cancer mortality and incidence rates vary globally, and ~916,000 deaths in 2020 were due to colorectal cancer. It is the third most common cancer in men and the second most common cancer in women. The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women. Therefore, colorectal cancer was identified as the third most common cancer and the second most death-causing cancer.       

Causes of Colorectal Cancer

The exact cause of colorectal cancer is unknown, but it is believed to develop due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some risk factors that increase the chances of developing colorectal cancer include:

  • Age: Colorectal cancer is more common in people over the age of 50.

  • Family history: People with a family history of colorectal cancer are more likely to develop the disease.

  • Inherited gene mutations: Certain inherited gene mutations, such as Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis, increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

  • Personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps: People who have had colorectal cancer or polyps in the past are at a higher risk of developing the disease again.

  • Inflammatory bowel disease: People with inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.

  • Diet: A diet high in red and processed meats, and low in fruits and vegetables, may increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

In the early stages, colorectal cancer may not cause any symptoms. However, as the cancer grows, it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation that lasts for more than a few days

  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool

  • Abdominal pain or cramping

  • Weakness or fatigue

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Nausea or vomiting

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor for an evaluation.

Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer can be diagnosed through a variety of tests, including:

  • Colonoscopy: A procedure in which a flexible tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the rectum and colon to look for abnormalities.

  • Fecal occult blood test: A test that checks for hidden blood in the stool.

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: A procedure similar to a colonoscopy, but it only examines the lower part of the colon.

  • Double-contrast barium enema: A test that uses X-rays and a contrast material to examine the colon.

  • CT colonography: A type of CT scan that examines the colon.

If any abnormalities are found during these tests, a biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Colorectal Cancer

The treatment of colorectal cancer depends on the stage of the cancer and the patient's overall health. Treatment options may include:

  • Surgery: The most common treatment for colorectal cancer is surgery to remove the cancerous tumor and any nearby lymph nodes.

  • Chemotherapy: A treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells.

  • Radiation therapy: A treatment that uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells.

  • Targeted therapy: A treatment that uses drugs to target specific proteins or genes that are involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells.

In some cases, a combination of these treatments may be used.

Prevention of Colorectal Cancer

There are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer, including:

  • Getting screened regularly: Regular screening can help detect colorectal cancer in its early stages, when it is most treatable.

  • Maintaining a healthy diet: Eating a diet rich in

According to The Insight Partners colorectal cancer market is expected to grow from US$ 18,619.3 million in 2022 to US$ 24,078.5 million by 2028; it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.3% from 2022 to 2028