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Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

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What Is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon and/or rectum. It typically first manifests as polyps, which are incorrect growths of normal tissue. Though most people have some colon polyps, for some individuals, those growths can turn malignant. This means that their growth will go unchecked, invading surrounding tissues and starving them of blood and nutrients. At that point, it's cancerous and needs treatment.

The good news is that colorectal cancer is one of the easier-to-treat forms of the disease, provided that you catch it early. That's where knowing the signs and symptoms can literally save your life.

Signs and Symptoms

Colorectal cancer doesn't have many early warning signs, but some typical symptoms include:

  • Long-term changes in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea)
  • Blood in the stool
  • Tarry, black stools
  • Persistent stomach pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Consistently "narrowed" stools
  • If you find yourself experiencing several of these symptoms, and they persist for two weeks or more, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor. Once the doctor has evaluated your statements, there is a wide variety of surgical instrumentation they can use to diagnose and treat the condition.

    Treatment and Prognosis

    Colorectal cancer is diagnosed typically with a colonoscopy. This procedure involves the use of an endoscope to look through your colon. The surgeon identifies potential sites of cancer and will biopsy-- that is, take a piece of them -- and test it to see if any tissue is, in fact, cancerous.

    In the event that cancer is present, chemotherapy is typically the first course of treatment. From there, the doctor may utilize surgical instrumentation to remove the tumors. Often, this will be followed up with another course of chemotherapy and re-evaluation. With early treatment, the prognosis for colorectal cancer is quite good.

    Incidence Within the General Population

    Colorectal cancer typically occurs in adults aged 50 and over. It's recommended that people within that age range get checked every five years or so to ensure early detection. With that in mind, however, there have been increasing diagnoses within younger age groups. While it's difficult to point to a single reason why this might be the case, both a sedentary lifestyle and excessive use of alcohol are known risk factors.

    If you are concerned about colorectal cancer or the diagnosis and treatment of it, visit your doctor today. For medical practitioners looking for speciality medical devices, visit Medical Device Store to find the instruments you need.