All You Need to Know About Early Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

All You Need to Know About Early Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Did you know that over the last decade colorectal cancer has been the 5th leading cause of cancer deaths in India? Well, also known as bowel cancer, colon cancer or rectal cancer, it affects the colon and the rectum, a major component of the large intestine and digestive tract. Colorectal cancer starts as a non-cancerous growth called a polyp inside the lining of the colon. With time, these polyps develop into cancer over 5 to 10 years. 

Some of the most common risk factors for polyps include family history, not eating enough fibre, prior history of bowel diseases as well as prior history of colon polyps. Timely detection and surgical removal of the polyps in the early stage is one of the most effective preventive measures that reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Here are a few early-stage symptoms of colorectal cancer that require immediate screening and medical consultation:

  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Change in the colour and shape of stool 
  • Blood in stool 
  • Excessive gas 
  • Abdominal cramps and pain

While most people do not experience early-stage symptoms, some of the noticeable symptoms experienced in the later stage of colorectal cancer are:

  • Jaundice
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss and weakness 
  • Constipation and diarrhea accompanied by a change in bowel habits
  • Anemia, chronic headaches and breathing difficulties
  • Vomiting and blood in the stool 

If you experience any of the above symptoms, make sure to get an immediate medical consultation. While risk factors like family history and age can not be prevented, a few lifestyle factors reduce the overall risk of developing colorectal cancer. Here are a few precautionary measures:

Get screened for colorectal cancer
Regular screenings for colorectal cancer is the best way to detect cancer or pre-cancer in people even before the symptoms. With timely screening, most polyps can be detected and surgically removed before they turn into cancer. For people with a family history of colorectal cancer or above the age of 45 years, it is advised to consult a doctor to know about the right tests for timely detection of colorectal cancer. 

Maintain a healthy weight & exercise
Being obese or overweight increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer in both men and women. And the first step is to maintain a healthy weight with a nutritious diet and regular physical activity. Add around 45-minute exercise to reduce the risk of developing polyps in the colon and cut down the risk of chronic diseases caused by weight gain. 

Include folate, vitamin D & calcium to daily meals
Research shows that nutritious meals with sufficient fruits, vegetables and whole grains reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Along with a healthy nutrient-rich meal, try adding multivitamins containing folate, vitamin D, magnesium and calcium as it lowers the risk of colorectal cancer. 

Limit the consumption of alcohol & say no to smoking
Increased consumption of alcohol combined with smoking is one of the top risk factors for chronic diseases including cancer. Drinking in moderation and quitting alcohol lowers the risk of colorectal cancer as well as well as other health problems.

By: Navreet Kaur | on 2020-12-02

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