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Last Updated: Apr 08, 2024

What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Colorectal Cancer

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Dr. Manoj YadavGastroenterologist • 15 Years Exp.DM - Gastroenterology, MD Medicine, MBBS
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What is Colorectal cancer?

A type of cancer that develops in the cells of the colon or rectum is called colorectal cancer, commonly referred to as colon cancer.

Types of Colorectal cancer

The two main types of colorectal cancer are:

  • Adenocarcinoma: Around 95% of instances of colorectal cancer are of this kind, making it the most prevalent.If untreated, it can spread to other organs and starts in the cells that line the colon or rectum.
  • Sarcoma: This is a less common type of colorectal cancer that begins in the muscle or connective tissue of the colon or rectum. It is usually more aggressive than adenocarcinoma and typically requires more aggressive treatments.

What are the signs and symptoms of Colorectal cancer?

  • Changes in bowel habits, such as prolonged diarrhoea, constipation, or narrowing of the stools, are the most typical sign of colon cancer.
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool may also be an early sign and should be reported to a doctor.
  • Abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue are other symptoms of colorectal cancer that may occur in advanced stages of the disease.
  • Unexplained anaemia (low red blood cell count) can also be a sign and is often found during routine blood work.

What are possible complications of Colorectal cancer?

  • Metastasis: The liver, lymph nodes, and lungs are just a few of the body organs where colorectal cancer can metastasize. Metastasis is the term for this process, which is a significant problem that can be challenging to cure.
  • Bowel Obstruction: Tumours growing in the colon or rectum can cause a complete or partial blockage of the intestines. This can lead to severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.
  • Perforation: Tumours in the colon or rectum can sometimes grow large enough to punch through the wall of the intestine, leading to a hole or tear in the intestine called a perforation. This can cause infection and inflammation of the abdominal cavity and requires immediate medical attention.
  • Fistula Formation: Some colorectal tumours can grow into nearby organs or tissue, forming an abnormal connection called a fistula that can cause drainage from the anus or other parts of the body.
  • Anaemia: Colorectal cancer can cause anaemia due to chronic blood loss from tumours in the digestive tract or due to chemotherapy treatments used to treat colorectal cancer. Due to low quantities of red blood cells in the body, anaemia results in weakness, pale skin, and exhaustion.

What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Colorectal Cancer?

  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, as well as reduce the risk of recurrence after treatment.
  • Dietary modifications: Consuming large amounts of red and processed meats may increase the risk of colon cancer, whereas eating a diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may lower that risk.
  • Probiotics: Taking probiotic supplements may help to prevent colorectal cancer by promoting healthy bacteria in the gut and reducing inflammation in the colon.
  • Vitamin D: Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, so increasing intake of vitamin D-rich foods or taking a supplement may be beneficial.
  • Avoid smoking: Smoking cigarettes has been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, so avoiding smoking or quitting if possible is recommended.
  • Limit alcohol intake: Consuming more than two alcoholic beverages per day has been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, so limiting intake is recommended for prevention and recovery from this disease.
  • Turmeric: Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation in the colon and lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil or flaxseed oil may help reduce inflammation in the colon and lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Green tea: Compounds found in green tea have been shown to inhibit tumour growth and reduce inflammation in the colon, making it a possible natural remedy for preventing colorectal cancer development or recurrence after treatment.
  • Garlic: Garlic contains compounds with anti-cancer properties that may help inhibit tumour growth and reduce inflammation in the colon, making it a possible natural remedy for preventing colorectal cancer development or recurrence after treatment
  • Abhyanga: Abhyanga is an ayurvedic massage therapy that helps to improve circulation of blood throughout the body and also helps to reduce stress levels. It can relax the mind and body, improve immunity and reduce inflammation.
  • Ayurvedic medicines: There are several ayurvedic medicines available that can help in treating colorectal cancer such as Triphala (an herbal mixture), Amalaki Rasayana (a tonic for rejuvenation) and Kaishore Guggulu (an ayurvedic formulation).
  • Yoga and meditation: Yoga postures such as Trikonasana (triangle pose) and Ardha Matsyendrasana (half spinal twist pose) can be helpful in reducing stress levels which may help to fight cancer cells in the body. Meditation has also been found to be beneficial for people with colorectal cancer as it helps with relaxation and reduces anxiety levels associated with cancer treatment.
  • Detoxification therapies: Detoxification therapies like panchakarma can be used to remove toxins from the body which may have accumulated due to a poor diet or lifestyle habits such as smoking or alcohol consumption. This helps in improving overall health which may indirectly affect the growth of cancer cells in the body by reducing inflammation or stimulating immune system responses.
  • If these measures don't help, you could need surgical intervention. 

What are the surgical treatments for Colorectal cancer?

  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy may be administered either before or after surgery, or both, in order to eliminate any cancer cells that may still be present and limit the likelihood of a disease returning. In most cases, chemotherapy medicines are administered intravenously (into a vein).
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy involves subjecting patients to high-energy X-rays in order to kill cancer cells and reduce the size of tumours. It may be used in addition to surgery if the tumour cannot be completely removed, or as an alternative for patients who cannot have surgery due to age or other health issues.
  • Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapies use drugs that target specific molecules involved in tumour growth, such as proteins, hormones, and enzymes produced by tumours. These drugs can stop cancer cells from growing and spreading, leading to shrinkage of tumours or even complete remission in some cases.
  • Surgery to remove lymph nodes: This procedure, also known as lymph node dissection, is often conducted in conjunction with the removal of the tumour. The surgeon will remove any cancerous lymph nodes that may have spread from the original tumour site.
  • Colostomy: This is a procedure where a surgeon creates an opening in your abdominal wall and attaches it to your colon or rectum. This allows waste to be diverted away from your affected area and out of your body through this new opening, called a stoma.
  • Coloanal anastomosis: This procedure involves connecting your colon or rectum directly to your anus, bypassing any affected areas of the intestine or rectum. This allows for waste to exit your body normally without having to use a colostomy bag.
  • Abdominoperineal resection: This is an extensive surgical procedure that removes both the rectum and anus and then reconnects them so you can have normal bowel movements again.

Best doctors to consult for Colorectal cancer?

  • Oncologists: Oncologists specialise in the treatment of cancer, including colorectal cancer. They are typically the primary doctor on a healthcare team for individuals with colorectal cancer and are responsible for overseeing the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of the disease.
  • Surgeons: A surgeon is a medical professional who specialises in performing operations to treat medical conditions, including colorectal cancer. They may be involved in removing tumours, repairing damaged sections of the colon, or performing other types of surgery as part of a treatment plan for colorectal cancer.
  • Gastroenterologists: The diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting the digestive system, such as colorectal cancer, are the primary responsibilities of gastroenterologists. They can help with the diagnosis and management of colorectal cancer by performing tests such as colonoscopy or endoscopy to examine the digestive tract and look for abnormalities.
  • Radiation Oncologists: Radiation oncologists specialise in using radiation therapy to treat different types of cancers, including colorectal cancer. They may be involved in developing a radiation therapy plan to shrink tumours and reduce symptoms associated with colorectal cancer.
  • Pathologists: Pathologists are medical professionals who specialise in examining tissues and cells to diagnose diseases, including cancers such as colorectal cancer. They may be involved in analysing tissue samples from biopsies or surgeries to look for signs of abnormal cells that could indicate early stages of cancer.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!



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