Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer that affects people in the United States. It can affect both men and women, but it is more commonly diagnosed in men than women. Colorectal cancer begins when abnormal cells form in the lining of the large intestine or rectum. These cells can grow out of control and eventually form a tumor. If left untreated, these tumors can spread to other parts of the body and cause serious health problems.
The exact cause of colorectal cancer is not known, but there are certain risk factors that may increase your chances of developing it. Some of these risk factors include age, smoking, obesity, a family history of colorectal cancer, and having inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis. People who have had polyps in their colon or rectum also have an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer.
If you have any of these risk factors, it is important to talk to your doctor about getting screened for colorectal cancer. Screening tests such as colonoscopies can help detect precancerous polyps before they become cancerous and allow doctors to remove them before they turn into tumors. In addition to screenings, there are lifestyle changes you can make that may reduce your risk for developing colorectal cancer including eating a healthy diet low in red and processed meats, exercising regularly, quitting smoking if you smoke, limiting alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy weight.
If you are diagnosed with colorectal cancer it is important to get treated right away. Treatment options vary depending on the stage and type of tumor present but usually involve surgery followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Surgery may involve removing part or all of the affected area such as the colon or rectum while chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used to kill any remaining cancer cells after surgery has been completed.
Colorectal cancer is a serious condition that should be taken seriously by everyone at risk for developing it or those who know someone who has been diagnosed with it. By understanding your risks and getting screened regularly if necessary you can catch this condition early enough so that treatment will be more successful which could ultimately save your life or the life of someone close to you.