Bowel Cancer, also known as Colon Cancer, is the growth of a malignant tumor that usually appears in the large bowel.
The intestine is part of the digestive system. It is a long tube that connects the stomach to the colon.
Bowel Cancer affects typically affects this organ. High-fat diets, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and a history of polyps in the colon can increase the risk of suffering from this condition.
Some usual signs of small bowel cancer include:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss without reason
- Presence of blood in the stool
- Appearance of masses in the abdomen
Imaging studies showing the small intestine and surrounding area can help diagnose bowel cancer and reveal whether it has spread.
The most common treatment is surgery. Treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of both.
Small bowel cancer is a rare disease in which malignant cells are formed in the mucosa covering the different sections of the small intestine: duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.
Description and Symptoms
Bowel cancer involves uncontrolled proliferation of cells in the bowel, forming a tumor. Cancer can eventually spread elsewhere in the body if left untreated.
Symptoms of bowel cancer include:
Blood in the Stool:
Always see a physician if you start to see blood in your stools. There may be other reasons for this symptom, such as stomach ulcers, hemorrhoids, or various forms of colitis, so nobody should assume they have bowel cancer just because they notice some blood.
Changes in Bowel Habits often occur.
Typically bowel motions become more frequent and looser. Conversely, some sufferers may start to have constipation.
Only a persistent change in bowel habit is a possible sign of cancer. Many other diseases can cause this symptom.
Feeling that the bowel hasn’t emptied after bowel motions is a common symptom if a tumor is in the rectal area.
Abdominal Pain and Bloating
When they occur after eating they possibly are symptoms of bowel cancer, but can also be caused by other diseases of the intestine.
Abdominal pain not associated with eating is more likely to have another cause, such as ovarian disease.
Other signs include weight loss, loss of appetite, tiredness, nausea, and vomiting. However, many sufferers don’t have these other symptoms and continue to eat heartily.
The symptoms of bowel cancer can be quite mild, especially in the early stages of the disease.
Sometimes the bowel cancer only causes severe symptoms once it has spread to other organs, such as the liver or lungs.
Symptoms of secondary tumors in the liver may include dark urine, jaundice, and pain on the right-hand side of the body.
Secondary tumors in the lungs can cause a persistent cough (sometimes with blood), breathlessness, and chest pain.
The chances of surviving bowel cancer are much higher if doctors carry on with the treatment at an early stage. Anybody who has symptoms should see a physician without delay.
Sometimes a tumor can obstruct the bowel, giving severe abdominal pain and constipation. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.
It’s not clear why one person gets bowel cancer (colorectal cancer) rather than another.
Risk factors include obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, high alcohol consumption, high consumption of red and processed meats, and age (the risk increases the older you get).
You are at a higher risk of suffering from the disease if a close blood relative has had it. Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, are another risk factor.
High levels of vitamin D in the blood seem to reduce the risk. Some suggest a high-fiber diet as a means of preventing bowel cancer, but the scientific evidence is not conclusive.
The cause of small bowel cancer is unknown. However, there are some influential risk factors:
- Poor diet (consumption of alcohol, sugars, red meats, etc.)
- Be a smoker.
- Presence of intestinal polyps.
- Having Crohn’s disease.
- Be diagnosed with an inherited syndrome.
Concerning this last risk factor, the possible syndromes are:
HNPCC (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer): A loss in DNA repair capacity occurs due to a mutation in the MMR gene.
Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome: the appearance of hamartomatous polyps in the intestine.
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP): With a mutation of the APC gene, the tendency to develop polyps in the small intestine is higher.
The signs that show the presence of this tumor are not clear or concrete and, moreover, they usually appear in a phase in which the disease is advanced.
According to the Spanish Association Against Cancer, the most frequent are:
- Pain in the abdomen.
- Discomfort, such as nausea and vomiting.
- Blood in stool.
The disease is usually detected when it is already well advanced.
Some of the most effective diagnostic procedures are:
Upper digestive endoscopy: allows visualizing the duodenum.
Digestive tract: is a radiological procedure that allows seeing anomalies in the intestinal wall by ingesting a barium contrast through the mouth, which passes through all parts of the intestine.
Abdominal CT: which allows seeing the entire abdomen, and pinpoint lesions from 0.5 to 1 cm occurring in any organ.
Thoracic CT: used to check for metastases in the lungs.
Abdominal magnetic resonance.
PET-CT: Marked glucose is introduced into the blood, so the cells that are in the latest stage of the division process capture more glucose than the rest and, therefore, are more visible in the CT.
This increased cellular activity may indicate the presence of tumor cells.
The analysis of tumor markers in blood.
Treatment For Bowel Cancer
Surgery is the usual treatment. Such procedure can remove tumors and the surrounding tissue.
If cancer has spread elsewhere, for example to the liver, doctors will have to remove these secondary tumors surgically. They may also remove lymph nodes as well.
Chemotherapy is often used to treat bowel cancer. It can be used before surgery to shrink tumors, and after surgery as a preventive measure.
Radiation therapy is sometimes used, but only in a minority of cases, since radiation can damage the bowel wall.
Prevention is based both on avoiding the dietary risk factors mentioned above and on quitting smoking.
Also, if there is a hereditary condition, although there is no proper protocol to follow, periodic reviews should be done with specialists.
Small bowel cancer is unusual and accounts for only 2 percent of gastrointestinal tumors. Overall, all malignancies account for less than 0.4 percent of cases.
The average age at which he is most present is around 65 years.