Important Things To Know
About Bowel Cancer
Bowel cancer does not have a definite cause. It has a higher incidence in developed countries. It is the third most common cancer in the U.S. and one of the most common worldwide. The incidence is higher in North America and lowest in South America and Africa. While bowel and rectal cancer are slightly more common in men, colon cancer is more prevalent in women.
Although there are no definite causes of bowel cancer, predisposing factors have been identified:
- Age: bowel cancer is more common after age 40 and 90% occur in people over 50 years of age.
- History of polyps: of the total resected polyps, 5% had a premalignant focus of cancer. For this reason, it is recommended to get endoscopic tests in order to make an early diagnosis of any cancerous lesion.
- Bowel cancer history in first degree relatives (genetic predisposition); This factor increases the risk of developing bowel cancer eight times. If distant relatives have a history of bowel cancer, the risk also exists, but is negligible.
- Intestinal history of inflammatory disease (Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis); Just as in the presence of polyps, inflammatory bowel disease (especially ulcerative colitis) may contribute to the onset of cancer. Medical control should be made with endoscopy.
- Dietary factors: low-fiber diet, high in refined carbohydrates, high fat, low intake of protective micronutrients; In the case of diet, potential mechanisms which contribute to the development of bowel cancer would decrease as the volume of the stool that slows intestinal transit and altered bacterial flora. Toxic products that are generated by the degradation of carbohydrates by bacteria are present in high concentrations and are in contact with the intestinal mucosa for longer periods of time. In addition, high fat content increases the synthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids by the liver and becomes potential carcinogens by intestinal bacteria. Furthermore, highly refined diets of North American culture are often low in the intake of antioxidants such as vitamin A, C and E.
If there are predisposing factors, it is prudent to do screening tests after age 30. For families who have had bowel cancer before age 45, screening tests should start at an earlier age. Checks are carried throughout life.
What Are The Symptoms Of Bowel Cancer?
The most common symptoms that often occur in people with bowel cancer are;
- Rectal bleeding
- Altered bowel habits
- Abdominal pain
- Anemia is also often found as a result of blood loss or melena (black colored stools).
What Tests Diagnose Bowel Cancer?
The doctor will decide which diagnostic tests will be performed. Several tests are usually carried out:
- Examination (with gloves)
- Rigid sigmoidoscopy
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Barium enema
Bowel Cancer Surgery
In the average patient with bowel cancer who undergoes surgery, 20-25 cm of the intestine is removed. This does not usually have major disadvantages in the digestive process. If resection is of greater length, a syndrome called “Short Bowel Syndrome” can be developed.
Will A “Bag” (Colostomy) Be Necessary Or Mandatory After Sugery?
A colostomy may be necessary during a period of time for the rest operated area. Permanent colostomy is necessary in patients who developed bowel cancer near the anal sphincter. In this case, the sphincter should be removed and the colostomy bag should be kept for life. About 9% of patients with bowel cancer who have undergone surgical colostomy, can be avoided thanks to new surgical techniques that are practiced by surgeons experienced in this area.
How Will A Colostomy Affect My Lifestyle?
There is no limitation in lifestyle for those patients who have had bowel cancer and required a colostomy bag. They can work, exercise and have normal sexual lifestyle.
Is Radiation Therapy Necessary?
If bowel cancer is located within the rectum, the doctor may indicate radiation before or after surgery in order to control the growth of the disease.
Is Chemotherapy Necessary?
In the case of colon cancer patients who have undergone surgery, the doctor may use chemotherapy in order to prevent the tumor from spreading to the lymph nodes. This treatment can continue for up to one year. While chemotherapy often causes side effects such as nausea, vomiting, taste changes, hair loss and weight loss; they are usually less severe than those observed during the treatment of other cancers.
What Are The Prospects Of A Complete Cure?
The possibility of cure for bowel cancer depends on tumor histology (growth pattern) and the degree of spread at the time of operation. If the cancer can be removed in its entirety, two-thirds of patients are cured. The patients who have had cancer detected early have a chance of cure of 90%.
Are Screening Tests Beneficial?
Screening tests are performed on people without symptoms, but there is suspicion of pathology in the intestine. Many cancers “lose” small amounts of blood that are eliminated in the feces. This is not noticeable by the patient, but they can be detected with tests called “test for fecal occult blood.” These diagnostic tests have enabled early detection of bowel cancer. An annual screening in male patients over 40 years is recommended.
Should I Be Checked Regularly For Bowel Cancer?
Your GP will decide if it is necessary to perform diagnostic tests and when. It may also be required to have a consultation with a surgeon in the field.
Can A Healthy Diet Prevent Bowel Cancer?
Due to the typical Western diet, which is characterized by low fiber, high fat and high in refined products, the increased prevalence of constipation and decreased intestinal transit is raised. This contributes to the generation of many toxins, which are held in contact with the intestinal mucosa. For this reason, it has been determined that a diet rich in fiber can help regulate intestinal transit time. Another contributing factor to the development of bowel cancer is a high fat diet, so it is recommended to reduce the consumption of fatty foods (oils, butters, margarines, crackers, snacks, etc.) and remove the visible fat from meats.
Finally, a high-fiber diet is high in antioxidants and anti-cancer compounds, which will contribute to the prevention of bowel cancer.
Long Distance Telephone Appointments
If you are not local to the clinic, Michelle Honda PhD Holistic Doctor can conduct telephone appointments with you very easily. So if you are anywhere in North America, you can now successfully receive high end, specialized help for your Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. If you are local to the clinic in Hamilton, Toronto or Mississauga Ontario – by all means come in for your appointment. If not, telephone appointments are very popular and convenient.