Three bowel-specific signs of cancer that emerge early
Bowel cancer: Dr Philippa Kaye lists the symptoms
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Nearly 43,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK each year, making it the fourth most common cancer in the UK. Some people can live with the disease for years before taking notice of symptoms, however. Once the signs do eventually emerge, they tend to include three bowel-related changes.
Cancer of the bowel is initiated by the dysregulation of cells in the bowel, causing them to proliferate uncontrollably.
According to Moffitt Cancer Center, the disease starts in the lower part of the digestive tract from a collection of benign cells called polyps.
“Most of these polyps will not become malignant, but some can slowly turn into cancer over the course of about 10 to 15 years,” adds the health body.
This slow progression means symptoms tend to be non-existent at the outset of the disease, or simply too minor to notice.
Often, however, signs will emerge once bowel cancer has progressed to stage II.
In bowel cancer, the symptoms are naturally characterised by changes in bowel habits – which are most noticeable when going to the loo.
The medical journal Nature explains: “Colorectal cancer patients may be symptomatic for many months before presentation.
“They may experience multiple symptoms, both bowel specific (rectal bleeding, change in bowel habit and abdominal pain) and system (loss of weight or appetite and fatigue).
“Not all individuals interpret their initial symptoms as serious and may attribute this to normal variation, ageing, lifestyle, and other comorbidities.”
Changes in bowel habits may include more frequent or looser stools, and some researchers believe regularly alternating between constipation and diarrhoea could be the most telling sign of all.
“However, these symptoms are very common and most people with them do not have bowel cancer,” notes NHS Inform.
This shouldn’t deter anyone from getting unusual bowel changes investigated by a healthcare progressional, however, as it is best to rule out the possibility of cancer.
According to Cancer Research UK, only 10 percent of patients with stage IV bowel cancer will survive for more than five years after their diagnosis.
In a few patients, however, treatment can control the disease for a long time and delay death or debilitating symptoms.
Diagnosing the disease early is always favourable as doctors can easily nip the disease in the bud while the tumour is still localised.
In fact, a staggering 92 percent of bowel cancer patients will survive bowel cancer for five or more years at its earliest stage.
The best way to detect bowel cancer is to receive a colonoscopy; a procedure that involves inserting a camera through the lower portion of the digestive tract.
People at risk of the disease are advised to get a colonoscopy every ten years after the age of 50.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the risk factors for the condition as follows:
- Lack of regular physical activity
- A diet low in fruit and vegetables
- A low fibre and high-fat diet
- A diet high in processed meats.
Though there is no sure way to avert the disease, exercise and a healthy diet are some of the best-researcher measures to reduce the risk of bowel cancer.
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