What is colorectal/ bowel cancer and what are its symptoms?
Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the large intestine (colon) or the rectum.
At first, this condition may not cause any symptoms. Subsequently, however, you may experience the following:
- Stomach pain
- Blood in bowel movements
- Change in bowel movements
How is colorectal cancer tested and treated?
The primary way in which colorectal cancer is tested for is through a colonoscopy. Here, a tube with a camera will be inserted into your anus and up your colon.
Treatment options usually include surgery to remove part of the colon or rectum with cancer, medicine called chemotherapy that kills the cancerous cells, or radiation therapy.
What will my post-surgery and treatment experience be like?
This will entirely depend on the type of surgery you undergo.
If your doctor reconnects your colon or rectum after removing the part with cancer, you can
expect to experience bowel movements like you usually do. However, if your doctor is unable to reconnect your colon or rectum, he or she will have to create a hole in your belly and attach that end of the colon or intestine to this hole. This is known as a colostomy. You will then excrete through this opening into a bag attached to your skin.
For some, this is only a temporary measure. Later on, they can have another surgery to reconnect their colon or rectum. Others, will experience this for the rest of their life.
After treatment, you will need to consult your doctor frequently for a couple of years. This is to prevent the cancer from coming back. These visits will often require you to take blood tests, CT scans, and colonoscopies from time to time.
What are the early stages of bowel cancer?
Stage 1: At this stage, the cancer will grow through the linings of the bowels.
Stage 2: In the second stage, the cancer will spread into the outer walls of the bowels and possibly to neighbouring organs.
Does bowel cancer spread quickly?
Bowel cancer is usually a slow-growing cancer and may take years to show any serious symptoms.
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