Colorectal Cancer: An Overview

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or simply want to know if you’re at risk of developing it, the first step is education. This concise overview will explain what colorectal cancer is, how it starts, types of colorectal cancer, and the risk factors involved.

What Is Colorectal Cancer?

Cancer is the result of certain cell types growing in unpredictable, out of control ways. Cancer is not limited to any one part of the body but cancers are often identified by the part of the body in which they start. Colorectal cancer is cancer that originates in either the rectum or the colon.

These cancers can also be referred to as colon cancer or rectal cancer, specifically. However, they are usually grouped together because these two cancer types are very similar in nature.

How Colorectal Cancer Develops

Initially, most colon and rectal cancers develop in the form of something called a polyp. Polyps are growths that can affect the interior areas of the rectum or colon. Not all polyps are cancerous; however, many types do develop into cancer over a period of years. There are two major categories of polyps.

Adenomatous polyps are considered to be precancerous while hyperplastic and inflammatory polyps are not considered to be cancerous.

Types of Colorectal Cancers

To learn more about colon cancer in Singapore, it’s helpful to be aware of the different types of colorectal cancer. Adenocarcinoma is the most prevalent form with over 95% of colorectal cancers fitting this category. It begins in the cells that lubricate the interior of the colon and rectum.

Hormone-making cells in the intestine that become cancerous are known as carcinoid tumours. GISTS, or gastrointestinal stromal tumours, begin in a very specialised type of cell. These tumours are sometimes benign.

Sarcomas are rare in the colon but they can occur and are the result of cancerous cells in blood vessels or muscle tissue. Lymphomas are best known for starting in lymph nodes but can be found in the colon as well.

Risk Factors

While anyone can develop any sort of cancer unexpectedly, doctors and scientists have determined that there are some risk factors that increase one’s likelihood of developing a specific cancer. Many of the risk factors that they have identified are factors that we can change in our own lives, which is encouraging to know.

Being overweight, physically inactive, and having a high red meat and processed meat dietary content are all risk factors. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and being physically active reduce your risk.

Most people associate smoking with lung cancer but it has also been linked to colorectal cancer. Not only that, but smokers are more likely to have a poor prognosis if they do develop colorectal cancer. Heavy alcohol use is another factor that contributes.

Some risk factors such as age, inflammatory bowel disease, and a family history of related cancers, cannot be easily altered.

It’s best to focus on those risks that you can mitigate to live the happiest, healthiest life possible.