Bowel Cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is a very common cancer in Australia. Research and studies has shown the cancer affects about 1 in 20 persons in Australia. The large bowel which is also called the colon and rectum is the last section in the digestion system. Food passes first through the longer, thinner part of the bowel known as the small bowel where nutrients are absorbed, which then moves through the large bowel where it becomes solid faces. The colon is divided intosections – ascending, transverse, descending and sigmoid colon. The solid faeces are collected at the end of the colon in the last part of the bowel called the rectum.
Bowel cancer is developed from polyps; these are tiny growths which are hidden deep inside the rectum and colon. However, not all polyps are cancerous. Furthermore, there are no specific reasons discovered yet about how most bowel cancers occur, but it is found that the risk of getting colon cancer is higher for those above 50 years of age, and may happen when there is a family history of bowel cancer.
Symptoms of Bowel Cancer :
The cancer develops when one of the cells in the colon goes through a series of mutations that control how the cell divides and survives. The division of cells becomes uncontrollable and forms a clump of cancerous cells which are malignant. Firstly, the cell change produces a clump of abnormal pea sized cells at the end of normal cells called an adenoma. Generally, bowel cancer symptoms initially go unnoticed. However, irregular bowel motions is a common bowel cancer symptom. Bleeding from the rectum after a bowel motion and abdominal pain may be associated with bowel cancer. The bleeding may eventually result in the depletion of red blood cells, resulting in anaemia and the person looking and feeling tired. Other symptoms of bowel cancer include gas pains, cramps, bloating, and fullness. In many cases, rectal bleeding is caused by haemorrhoids.
Not all the symptoms mentioned above can confirm the presence of bowel cancer. The presence of the disease can only be confirmed by having the patient go through a colonoscopy test Patients who have a bowel cancer diagnosed may indergo a CT scan, MRI scan, transrectal ultrasound or PET scan to look at the primary tumour itself and for any evidence of tumour spread in the body.
Treatment for Colorectal cancer:
Colorectal cancer is commonly treated with surgery, and may also involve chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. The surgery mainly involves removal of a part of the bowel where the tumour is located, including the draining lymph glands associated with that part of the bowel. The surgery is often called Surgical Resection. Surgery for colorectal cancer surgery is performed by colorectal surgeons who are trained and having vast expertise in such treatments.