Bowel Cancer – Causes and Symptoms of Bowel Cancer

The bowel is a lengthy, muscular tube that begins at the bottom of the stomach and ends at the anus. Bowel cancer is the cancer of the colon or rectum as it arises from the cells that line the bowel. All the bowel cancers arise from the large bowel and the risk of small bowel getting infected is very less. Around 40-50 percent cases are cured by surgery. They are together called colorectal cancers.

Causes of Bowel cancer
The exact cause of this type of cancer is not known. The possible causes include:

  • Healthy cells grow and divide to keep the body functioning normally.
  • Sometimes, this growth gets out of control, cells divide even when new cells are not needed.
  • This growth can cause precancerous cells to form in the lining of the intestine.
  • After a long period, some of these abnormal cells become cancerous.
  • Polyps are mushroom shaped structures present in the lining of the intestines that can become cancerous.
  • Gene mutations can also increase the risk of bowel cancer.
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis is a rare disorder in which thousands of polyps are formed in the lining of the rectum and colon and has a greater risk of developing cancer.
  • Lynch syndrome also increases the risk of bowel cancer.

Other factors
There are many other factors that increase the risk of bowel cancer. They include:

  • Old age: People older than 50 years of age are often diagnosed with bowel cancer.
  • Race: African-Americans are found to be at a higher risk of suffering this cancer.
  • Inherited syndromes: Certain genetic disorders can increase the risk of colon cancer.
  • Low fiber and a high fat diet: Diet low in fiber and high in fat is found to have an increased risk of this cancer.
  • Diabetes: People suffering from diabetes have an increased risk of colon cancer.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: If you are inactive, you are likely to develop cancer.
  • Smoking: People who smoke have a greater chance of suffering from this disorder.
  • Alcohol: If you are an alcoholic, then you are more prone to this disorder.
  • Radiation therapy: If radiation therapy is given to treat previous cancers, then you may be at a higher risk of bowel cancer.

Symptoms of Bowel cancer
The common signs and symptoms include:

  • A change in the bowel habits
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort
  • Cramps in the stomach
  • Gas
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss

When to consult your physician?
If you notice any symptoms of bowel cancer, or any changes in the bowel habits, take an appointment with your doctor and start screening for bowel cancer especially if you are above the age of 50.

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