Colorectal cancer doesn’t get the attention that other forms of cancer tend to get, but you may be surprised to learn that it’s the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women, trailing only breast cancer. Much like breast cancer, the sooner colorectal cancer is detected, the higher the likelihood it can be treated successfully, so it’s important to know the warning signs and to get your regular screening exam. Below, we take a closer look at why it’s so important for women to be mindful of their colorectal cancer risk.
Colorectal Cancer Symptoms And Risk Factors
Colorectal cancer can be so problematic because it typically does not present with obvious symptoms during its early stage. Again, this is why it’s so important to get your regular screening exams, so that issues can be detected and treated while they are most treatable. Colorectal cancer can also enter the lymph system or blood vessels and metatasize in other areas of the body, so it’s imperative to catch the condition before it spreads. When patients do present with symptoms, the most common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain, cramping or discomfort
- Irregular bowel movements
- Bloody stools
- Unexplained weight loss
Colorectal cancer can affect men and women of any age, but it tends to be more common in patients over the age of 50. Besides age, some common factors that can increase your risk of colorectal cancer include regular alcohol use, being overweight or obese, having underlying bowel disorders, smoking and having a family history of colorectal cancer. Even if you do not have any of these risk factors, it is recommended that you undergo regular colorectal cancer screenings every five years beginning at the age of 45.
Diagnosing And Treating Colorectal Cancer
If your gastrointestinal specialist believes that you may be dealing with a colon issue, they may order a few different tests to figure out exactly what’s going on. A colonoscopy is the most widely known and used diagnostic tool for colon issues, but stool or blood tests can also help to provide answers. Tissue sample collection from any colon polyps may also be collected and tested to look for the presence of cancer cells. Additional tests may also be conducted to see if the cancer has spread to any other areas of your body.
Colorectal cancer treatment will vary based on a number of individual issues, including the location, stage and size of the cancerous growths. Depending on your situation, your doctor may order one or more of the following treatments:
- Surgical Excision
- Radiation Therapy
And while colorectal cancer is a deadly form of cancer, the encouraging news is that growths in the colon can oftentimes take 10-15 years to become cancerous, so if you are diligent about getting your regular colonoscopies, odds are you can catch an issue while it is in a treatable and noncancerous state.
Colonoscopies tend to be marketed more often towards men, because the issue tends to be slightly more common in men than women, but it’s still an issue that affects about 1 in every 25 women, so don’t assume that you are immune simply because you’re a woman. Colonoscopies are incredibly important for both sexes, so schedule your appointment today if you’re overdue for a colon cancer screening.
For more information about colorectal cancer or the diagnostic or treatment process, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today at (952) 368-3800.