Managing your Persistent Fears, Anxieties and Cancer. Article submitted by Stanley Popovich
What is cancer:
A cancer is made up of abnormal cells that are growing out of control.
Cancers are most often the size of a mushroom or larger.
Cancer is a term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control.
Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
What is Colorectal cancer?
Cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the body. These extra cells grow together and form masses, also called tumors. In colorectal cancer, these growths happen in the colon and rectum, or, the large intestines. This is the lower part of the digestive tract. Because colon cancer and rectum cancer have so many features in common, they are often considered together as “colorectal” cancer. Sometimes they will be discussed together, and sometimes separately.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men as well as women in the United States. Usually it is found in people who are older than 50. Although colorectal cancer is a very serious disease, if and when it is diagnosed in the early stages, it is easily treated and more often than not cured. But because it is usually not discovered early enough, it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths not only in the United States but in the Western World. Therefore, it is very important to know the warning signs and risk factors.
Not counting skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common diagnosed cancer in the United States and it affects men and women almost equally. On the average, one out of twenty people will be diagnosed, causing it to be the second most deadly form of cancer.
What are the warning signs, symptoms and risk factors of colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer in its early stages usually does not cause any symptoms.
When they do occur, the most common symptoms are:
- Pain in the belly, especially gas pains, cramps, or a feeling of fullness,
- Blood in your stool or very dark stools,
- A change in your bowel habits (such as more frequent stools or a feeling that your bowels are not emptying completely), Other, less common symptoms of early-stage colorectal cancer include fatigue and in rare cases unexplained weight loss and/or anemia.
A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Some of the risk factors like an unhealthy diet, or not getting enough exercise we have control over, others cannot be avoided, such as intestinal polyps, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, or a family history of colorectal cancer. However, those with unavoidable factors can still lower their cancer risk.
Some of the risk factors are:
- Age -most cases occur in the 60's and 70's and about 90 percent of diagnosed patients are older than 50;
- A history of colorectal cancer or any other cancer,
- A history of smoking,
- Crohn's disease and colitis,
- Physical inactivity,
- Intestinal polyps.
Colorectal cancer statistics: Close to 4,000 Americans a day are diagnosed with some form of cancer or another, according to The American Cancer Society estimates. This year alone, around 1.9 million people are expected to be given a cancer diagnosis, or die from the illness.
Early detection and screening: How can I prevent colorectal cancer? Fairly simple screening tests can prevent many cases of colon and rectal cancer. Screening tests are tests that look for a certain disease or condition before any symptoms appear. Regular screening is recommended after age 50 for most people. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to begin screening earlier than that.
These are the most common screening tests:
- Fecal occult blood test. You smear a small portion of your stool on a special card and send it to a lab. A testing solution is dropped onto the card. A change in the color of the solution means there is blood in the stool
- Sigmoidoscopy. A doctor inserts a flexible viewing scope through the rectum and into the first part of the colon. This test allows the doctor to see the lower portion of the intestine, which is where most colon cancers grow.
- Barium enema. Barium, a whitish liquid, is inserted through the rectum into the colon. The barium outlines the inside of the colon so that it can be more clearly seen on an X-ray
- Colonoscopy. A doctor inserts a long, flexible viewing scope, which is usually linked to a video monitor similar to a TV screen, through the rectum and into the colon. This test allows the doctor to see the entire large intestine.