Bowel Cancer- Signs, Risk Factors, and Diagnosis

July 27th, 2018
Bowel Cancer- Signs, Risk Factors, and Diagnosis

Bowel cancer is one of the common cancers that start as the benign and harmless growths known as the polyp on the wall or lining of the bowel.  It is not easy to detect the presence of these polyps in the initial stage and they are also harmless at that stage. However, if you will leave them undetected and untreated for a long period of time it can turn into malignant and develop into a cancerous tumor. Worsening the condition of the patient this cancer can metastasize and spreads to other parts of the body beyond the bowels.  This condition can be treated provided that it is detected at an early stage.  In order to detect any condition at an early stage, it is important for every patient to be aware of the signs and symptoms of this condition.

What are the indications of bowel cancer?

At an initial stage of cancer, the patient may not experience any significant signs and symptoms. However, as the cancerous tumor grows there are a blockage and narrowing in the bowel. Below we have listed out some of the major symptoms that can be associated with bowel cancer-

  • Along with the stool the presence of Blood or rectal bleeding
  • A recent and consistent change in the bowel habits.
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • A drastic change in the appearance or shape of bowel movements
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Pain or a lump in the anus or rectum
  • Unexplained anemia
  • A strange and continuous feeling that your bowel is not emptied completely.

Read Also: All about Ovarian Cancer 

What are the risk factors associated with Bowel Cancer?

The exact cause of bowel cancer is still unknown. However, when we talk about the risk factors there are certain things that can be clearly associated with this cancer.  Here we have listed out some of the factors that can be attributed to bowel cancer-

  1. Age – Increased age is largely associated with the increased risk of bowel cancer for the patient. In the researches, it is being found that almost 9 in 10 cases of bowel cancer occur in people aged 60 or over.
  2. Diet – The diet rich in red or processed meats and low fiber can drastically increase your risk of developing this condition.
  3. Weight – Apart from several other diseases obesity can be associated with bowel cancer also. This condition is more common in people who are overweight or obese.
  4. Inactive life – An inactive body is a home to many medical conditions. Just like that inactive life can also increase your risk of getting bowel cancer.
  5. Alcohol and Smoking – The chances of getting bowel cancer can be increased significantly if a person consumes an excessive amount of alcohol intake and smoking.
  6. Family history – You are at a greater risk of developing this condition if you have a close relative (mother or father, brother or sister) who developed bowel cancer under the age of 50.
  7. Other conditions- If you suffering from any severe conditions like ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, over a long period of time your risk of developing this condition increases.

You know the risk factors and symptoms of this condition thus you can protect yourself from developing this condition. Now it’s time to take a look at the diagnostic techniques that can help you in detecting the presence of this condition.

What are the diagnostic techniques for bowel cancer?

The various tests are conducted by the doctors to detect the presence of this condition. Apart from detecting its presence, it can also be used for determining the stage and symptoms of this condition. Below is the list of diagnosing techniques that can be used by the doctor- 

  1. Colonoscopy- It is a screening method that allows the doctor to look inside the entire rectum and colon while a patient is sedated. With this method, just the presence of this cancer is detected.   Further, another test can be conducted to know more about this condition.
  2. Biopsy- It is a method in which the small tissue is removed by the pathologist to examine under the microscope. The definite presence of this cancer can be reflected only with biopsy.
  3. Molecular testing of the tumor- The complete laboratory tests on a tumor sample may be conducted by the doctor to identify specific genes, proteins, and other factors unique to the tumor.  In case cancer has spread to other parts a sample of tissue is preferred for testing. With this method, the treatment method will be chosen.
  4.  Blood tests- Anemia is one of the symptoms of bowel cancer. A blood test can determine the number of blood cells that in turn will reflect the condition if any bleeding is occurring. Another blood test detects the levels of a protein called carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA).  If any person is suffering from high level of CEA it may be an indication that the bowel cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
  5. CT scan- It is a testing procedure in which the 3-dimensional picture of the organs of the body is taken to take a clear image if the inside body of the patient. The images are created by using the dye that is given to the patient by injecting it through veins or pills. For the people with colorectal cancer, this cancer can be used to check for the spread of cancer to the lungs, liver, and other organs.
  6. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)- Unlike CT scan an MRI is a procedure that used a magnetic field and not x-rays to produce the clear images of body organs. This test helps in determining the location of this cancer.
  7. Ultrasound-  It another kind of imaging test that uses the sound waves to create a picture of the internal organs to find out if cancer has spread. In the case of bowel cancer usually, Endorectal ultrasound used to find out how deeply rectal cancer has grown and can be used to help plan treatment.
  8. Positron emission tomography (PET) or PET-CT scan- It is a diagnostic procedure that is used in combination CT scan. In this method, a small amount of radioactive sugar substance is injected into the patient’s body to make the image of the inside person's body organ.

I hope you also interested to know about Metastatic cancer 


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