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Colorectal Cancer

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The colon and rectum (Colon Cancer)

The colon and rectum are parts of the digestive system. They form a long, muscular tube called the large intestine. The colon is the first five feet of the large intestine, and the rectum is the last six inches.

Partly digested food enters the colon from the small intestine. The colon removes water and nutrients and turns the rest into waste (stool). The waste passes from the colon into the rectum and then out of the body through the anus .

Understanding cancer

Cancer begins in cells, the building blocks that make up tissues. Tissues make up the organs of the body. Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. Sometimes, this orderly process goes wrong. New cells form when the body does not need them, and old cells do not die when they should. These extra cells can form a massive tissue called a tumour.

Risk factors

Research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop colorectal cancer.

The following screening tests can be used to detect polyps, cancer or other abnormal areas;

Colonoscopy

This is the gold standard for the investigation of the colon and rectum. Using this examination your doctor examines inside the rectum and the entire left colon using a long lighted tube called a colonoscope. Polyps and biopsies may be found and these can be removed during this examination. If polyps are found the polyps will be removed. This procedure is called a polypectomy.

Symptoms

The common symptom of colorectal cancer is a change in bowel habit.

Diagnosis

You will require a physical examination.
You may well undergo a colonoscopy. If tests show an abnormal area (such as a polyp) a biopsy to check for cancer cells may be necessary.

You may want to ask your doctor the following questions before having a biopsy

Q. How will the biopsy be done?

Q. Will I have to go to the hospital for the biopsy?

Q. How long will it take?

Q. Will I be awake? Will it hurt?

Q. Are there any risks? What are the chances of infection or bleeding after the biopsy?

Q. How soon will I know the results?

For further information on treatment, nutrition and physical activity, rehabilitation, follow-up care, complimentary please contact Dr Michael Elliot.