What Is Colorectal Cancer?: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What Is Colorectal Cancer?

There are four layers of tissue in the colon and rectal wall. Cancer occurs when cells in the body start growing uncontrollably. Colorectal cancers mean abnormal cells grow in the colon or rectum. It is also known as large bowel cancer, rectal cancer, or colorectal cancer. Colorectal includes cancerous growth in the colon, rectum, and appendix.

Colorectal cancer begins to start in the innermost layer of the large intestine wall. Most colorectal cancers begin with small polyps.

These polyps are a group of cells. Over some time, some of these polyps develop into cancer. Cancer first spreads to the large intestine wall, then to the surrounding lymph nodes, and then throughout the body.

colorectal cancer
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Table of Contents

Types of colorectal cancer


  • That develop when changes occur in cells that line the wall of the colon or rectum.


  •  Gastrointestinal tumors, carcinoid tumors, lymphomas, lymphosarcoma

you should also read the following Post that might be helpful: Gastrointestinal Polyps: Symptoms, Causes, Risk, Test and Treatment

Causes and risk factors

  • Age:  Age is the primary risk factor that increased significantly after 50 years.
  • Diet: high dietary intake of fat and red meat and low dietary intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Genetic disorder: genetic disorders such as polyposis, nonpolyposis, and syndrome increase the risk.
  • Family history
  • History of inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Obesity
  • Virus
  • Smoking and alcohol

Symptoms of colorectal cancer

If you have any experience symptoms during the early stages, they may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in stool color
  • Blood in the stool
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Adnominal cramp

Stages of the colorectal cancer

Stage I

  •  Cancers have begun to spread but are still in the inner lining.

Stages II

  • Cancers have spread to other organs near the colon or rectum.

Stages III

  • Cancers have spread to lymph nodes but have not been carry to distant parts of the body.

Stages IV

  • Cancer has taken through the lymph node to a remote part of the body known as metastasis.

Diagnostic evaluation

  • Screening.
  • Digital rectal examination.
  • A fecal occult blood test.
  • Laboratory test.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy.
  • Total colonoscopy.

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  • Radical bowel resection
  • Chemotherapy is the use of any drug to treat any disease”.
  • It’s often shortened to “chemo.” 
  • Radiation and surgery therapy remove, kill, or damage cancer cells in a particular area, but chemo can work throughout the body.    

Classification of chemotherapy

Alkylating agent

Damage DNA by causing a break down in the double-stranded helix cells. will die immediately/ when they attempt to divide.

  • Mechlorethamine.
  • Cyclophosphamide.
  • Chlorambucil.
  • Ifosfamide.
  • Busulfan.
  • Temozolomide.

Antitumor antibiotics

Antitumor antibiotics directly to DNA, thus inhibiting the synthesis of DNA &interfering with a transcription of RNA.

  • Doxorubicin.
  • Bleomycin.
  • Dactinomycin.
  • Plicamycin.

Hormone therapy

Selectively attach to estrogen receptors, causing downregulation of them inhibiting tumor growth. Also known as SERMs( selective estrogen receptor modulators).

    • Tamoxifen.
    • Fulvestrant.
    • Raloxifene.
    • toremifene.

Plant alkaloids

 Plant alkaloids are cytotoxic agents derived from plant extracts. Plant alkaloids inhibit the DNA and RNA synthesis and cause cell death.

Routes of chemotherapy

Oral route

  •  Oral chemotherapy medications that can be swallowed – come in various oral forms. (Pills, tablets, capsules, liquid).

Intravenous route 

  • Intravenous administration of chemotherapy allows rapid entry into the bloodstream. Most of the drug is rapidly soak up into the bloodstream.

Subcutaneous routes

  • Subcutaneous injections involve short needles such as those used by people with diabetes to inject insulin. the subcutaneous injection goes into the skin and muscles but does not enter the whole muscle layer.

Intrathecal-Intraventricular route

  • The body’s” blood-brain barrier does not allow many chemotherapy drugs given systematically to get to the CSF.
  • Intra-arterial routes: Intra-arterial drugs are giving into the artery that supplies blood to the tumor and affected areas.
  • Intraperitoneal route: Some king of chemotherapy medications can be delivered directly into the abdominal cavity.
  • Intravascular path: Intravascular drugs are delivered using a urinary catheter now into the bladder.
  • intrapleural routes: Chemotherapy can give into the pleural cavity ( space between the lung and lining of the lung)

Side effects of chemotherapy

  • Nausea – vomiting.
  • Headache.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Alopecia.
  • Rash.
  • Burning micturation.
  • Altered consciousness.
  • Gastritis.
  • G.I.bleeding, etc….
  • myelosuppression.

Complication of chemotherapy

  • Immunosuppression and myelosuppression
  • Neutropenic enterocolitis
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Teratogenicity
  • Infertility
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Organ damage
  • Anemia

Radiation therapy

It uses high-energy waves or particles like x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams, or protons to destroy or damage cancer cells.

Other names for radiation therapy are

  1. radiotherapy
  2. irradiation
  3. x-ray therapy

Different types of ionizing radiation 

  • Electromagnetic radiation.
  • X-rays.
  • Gamma rays.
  • Particulate radiation.
  • Alpha particles.
  • Electrons.
  • Neutrons.
  • protons.
  • Radioactive produced by.
  • cobalt60- emits gamma rays.
  • Cyclotron has- neutrons & protons.
  • A linear accelerator – generates ionizing radiation from electricity & multiple energies.
  • The adverse effect of radiotherapy.
  • Chromosomal disruption.
  • Impair protein synthesis function necessary for survival.
  • Burns.
  • Skin reactions.
  • Fatigue.
  • General weakness.
  • Low blood counts.
  • Eating problems.
  • Complications of radiotherapy.
  • Persistent drowsiness & apathy.
  • Neurocognitive impairment.

Types of Radiation therapy

Teletherapy ( external) 

External beam radiation, also called teletherapy, is administered by a machine at a certain distance from the body’s specific area. Depending on the number of energy, X-rays can destroy cancer cells at the body’s surface.

Brachytherapy (internal)

Brachytherapy is an advanced cancer treatment. In that, radiation is given internally near the tumor area. It consists of the implantation or insertion of radioactive materials directly into the tumor(interstitial) or proximity adjacent to cancer (intracavity/intraluminal)

Immunotherapy for colorectal cancer

It helps the body to fight against the cancer cell; it makes the body cells and tissues.


Colorectal cancer is a prevalent type and cause of cancer-related death. Early stages of treatment can remove cancerous cells and increase the chances of a positive outcome. If anyone has a risk of colorectal cancer, they should ask a doctor about screening. Regular screening improves the chances of an early diagnosis.

A few other articles that you might be interested in:

I tried to cover as much as I could for colorectal cancer, but if you still have a question in your mind, feel free to give us comment.

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