Research Report On Colorectal Cancer

3772 words - 15 pages

Colorectal cancer is the presence of malignant tumours in the bowel wall of the colon, rectosigmoid junction and rectum of the human body. These cancerous tumours usually begin as benign polyps. Of the four types of cancer, colorectal cancer is most commonly carcinomatoid, meaning that malignant tumours grow out from the surface epithelial layer of the body. Cancer cells caused by this disease can break away from tumours and spread to adjacent tissues and other organs of the body, thereby causing additional damage. Once malignant tumours have invaded other bodily organs, the disease becomes very hard to treat and may result in death.Because tumours have a tendency to bleed, a common symptom of colorectal cancer is the presence of blood in stools. Fresh, bright red blood is possible evidence of a growth in the rectum or lower end of the colon, whereas dried blood might indicate a tumour at the beginning of the colon. Another possible indicator is narrow stools. Thin stools can sometimes indicate that waste has been squeezed past some sort of obstacle, such as a tumour, on its journey through the colon/lower intestine.Other symptoms include general stomach discomfort, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach cramps. Cancerous tumours may grow large enough to cause bowel obstruction, which may prevent the passage of solids, liquids and even gas. This can lead to discomfort and severe abdominal cramps, especially if a tumour blockage restricts blood flow to the colon. Painful cramping may also indicate that a tumour has perforated the bowel wall, which is an acute medical emergency. Less severe warning signs of colorectal cancer include constipation, gas and bloating, and a sense of fullness in the stomach. Also, it is possible for colorectal tumours to cause iron deficiency anaemia. This is due to the blood passed in stools from bleeding tumours, which can result in a loss of iron, a common sign of which is tiredness and lethargy. Colorectal cancer can also cause unexplained weight loss due to the release of metabolism-increasing chemicals from tumours.The similarity of many colorectal cancers to other kinds of diseases such as Peptic Ulcer, Crohn's Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Diverticulitis and Ulcerative Colitis, makes diagnosis from symptoms alone very difficult.It is imperative to note that a lack of symptoms does not translate to an absence of disease, since cancerous adenomas can grow unnoticed for many years without impacting upon the digestive system.Australia currently has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world, with about one in 19 men and one in 28 women developing colorectal cancer before the age of 75. By age 85, this risk increases to 1 in 10 men and 1 in 15 women. Colorectal cancer is the most common form of internal cancer diagnosed in Australia, and is estimated to cost the health system over $200 million each year.In the year 2000, 3.8% of all male deaths and 3.5% of all female deaths in Australia were attributed to...

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