Bowel Cancer

Abnormal growth and spread of cancer cells in the bowel

By Vishal Ingole, Medical Research EditorLast modified: October 12, 2011

Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer is the abnormal growth and spread of cells in the bowel. This type of cancer is commonly observed in people over the age of 60. Treatment depends upon the size, position and the metastasis of the cancer.

Bowel Cancer Defined

Bowel cancer or colorectal cancer is the cancer that develops in the larger bowel (last part in the digestive system and rectum).Normally, cancer in the small bowel is very rare.

Bowel cancers generally develop from tiny non-cancerous (benign) growths called Polyps which may become malignant over time.

Symptoms Of Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer is usually characterized by symptoms such as blood in feces, diarrhea or persistent change in bowel habits, weight loss accompanied by loss of appetite, tiredness, breathlessness and pain or lump in the abdomen.

Diagnosing Bowel Cancer

Colonoscopy: In this method, the doctor examines the large bowel minutely. The method involves inserting a flexible, narrow, tube-like telescopic camera called a colonoscope into the large bowel.

Sigmoidoscopy: This method examines the rectum or the lower portion of the bowel. The procedure is the same as for colonoscopy. Barium Enema: A fluid containing Barium is inserted into the bowel via the rectum. Barium shows up in X-rays and the inside of the bowel can be viewed more clearly.

If Bowel cancer is detected, some other tests, such as CT scan and MRI may be done to determine the size and position of the cancer.

Causes Of Bowel Cancer

The primary cause of bowel cancer is increasing age. It is reported that one out of every ten people of over forty years gets afflicted with this type of cancer.

Risk Factors Of Bowel Cancer

The multifarious risk factors of bowel cancer include:

A family history
Inherited non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) or adenomatous polyposis(FAP) or the lynch syndrome can aggravate the chances of bowel cancer considerably.
A long-term bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis can lead to this condition.
Crohn’s disease or a low- nutrition diet which is low in fiber and high in red meats.
Obesity or sedentary lifestyle heightens the risk of bowel cancer potentially.
Diabetic patients are likely to develop this cancer as opposed to others.

Treatment For Bowel Cancer

Surgery: The tumor is eliminated surgically and the open ends are then joined together. If the ends cannot be joined back, acolostomy (opening in the large bowel) or an ileostomy (opening in the small bowel) is performed and a bag, which is put over the opening, collects your bowel waste outside your body.

Chemotherapy: In this method, the cancerous cells are expunged with the help of drugs administered intravenously.

Radiotherapy: Powerful radiations like X-rays are used to obliterate the malignant cells. Sometimes, both chemo and Radiotherapy are used to shrink the tumor size pre-surgery.

Prevention Of Bowel Cancer Treatments

Bowel cancer can be prevented by incorporating a bevy of lifestyle changes into your daily schedule. It is vital to maintain a healthy weight and exercise for at least 30 minutes, five days a week. In addition, it is recommended to eat five portions of fruits and vegetables every day. Stick to diet that contains fiber rich foods such as whole grains, cereals etc. Refrain from consuming red and processed meats. Last but not the least, bowel cancer risks can be considerably reduced by quitting smoking and getting enough Vitamin D through generous exposure to sunlight on a daily basis.

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This article was written by the medical research team at does not intend for any of the information on this site to be regarded as medical advice - it is meant as a starting point for understanding treatment details and options before contacting a registered, licensed doctor. We advise all patients to seek medical advice from a doctor.
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