Colorectal Cancer Patients

Colorectal cancer, often referred to as colon cancer or rectal cancer, is a type of cancer that originates in the colon or rectum, which are parts of the digestive system. These two parts of the digestive tract are collectively known as the colorectum. Colorectal cancer typically develops from abnormal growths of cells known as polyps, which can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Over time, malignant polyps can progress into cancer.

Risk Factors:

Several risk factors are associated with an increased likelihood of developing colorectal cancer, including age (risk increases with age), family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, certain genetic syndromes, a personal history of colorectal cancer or certain other cancers, a history of inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), a diet high in red and processed meats, lack of physical activity, obesity, smoking, and heavy alcohol consumption.

Types of Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer encompasses several types of cancer that originate in the colon (large intestine) or rectum. The most common types of colorectal cancer are:

  • Adenocarcinoma: Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of colorectal cancer, accounting for the majority of cases. It develops from the glandular cells that line the inner surface of the colon and rectum. Adenocarcinoma is further categorized based on its location within the colon or rectum.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinoma of the colorectum is much rarer than adenocarcinoma and is more commonly found in the anus rather than the colon or rectum. It begins in the squamous cells lining the surface of the anus.
  • Carcinoid Tumor: Carcinoid tumors of the colon or rectum are relatively rare. These tumors originate from neuroendocrine cells in the GI tract. They tend to grow slowly and are often less aggressive than adenocarcinomas.
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST): GISTs are a type of soft tissue tumor that can occur anywhere in the digestive tract, including the colon and rectum. While they are not technically a type of colorectal cancer, they can be found in this region and require specific treatment approaches.
  • Lymphoma: Lymphoma of the colon or rectum is a rare type of cancer that originates in lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. It can affect the lymph nodes in the GI tract.
  • Hereditary Colorectal Cancer Syndromes: Some individuals may develop colorectal cancer as a result of hereditary syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, or HNPCC). These syndromes increase the risk of developing specific types of colorectal cancer.

Screening and Early Detection

Screening for colorectal cancer is crucial for early detection and improved treatment outcomes. Common screening methods include colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, fecal occult blood tests, and stool DNA tests. Screening is typically recommended starting at age 45 or earlier for individuals with certain risk factors.


Colorectal cancer may not cause noticeable symptoms in its early stages. However, as the cancer progresses, common symptoms can include changes in bowel habits (such as diarrhea or constipation), blood in the stool, abdominal pain or discomfort, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, and a feeling of incomplete bowel emptying.


Diagnosis typically involves a combination of medical history review, neurological examination, imaging studies (such as MRI and CT scans), and often a biopsy to confirm the type of brain tumor and its grade (which indicates how aggressive the tumor is).


Treatment options for brain cancer depend on the type, location, size, and grade of the tumor, as well as the patient’s overall health. Treatment modalities may include:

  • Surgery: Surgery is often the primary treatment for colorectal cancer, especially in the early stages. The goal of surgery is to remove the cancerous tumor and nearby lymph nodes.
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to target and destroy cancer cells. It may be used before surgery to shrink tumors (neoadjuvant therapy), after surgery to eliminate remaining cancer cells (adjuvant therapy), or as palliative treatment to relieve symptoms.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells or inhibit their growth. It may be administered orally or intravenously and can be used before or after surgery. In advanced stages, chemotherapy may be the primary treatment.
  • Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy drugs are designed to target specific molecules or pathways involved in cancer growth. Some colorectal cancers with specific genetic mutations, such as KRAS mutations, may be treated with targeted therapies.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy aims to stimulate the body’s immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. While not as commonly used as in some other cancer types, immunotherapy is being studied as a potential treatment for certain colorectal cancers with specific characteristics.
  • Supportive Care: Managing symptoms, controlling pain, and improving quality of life are important aspects of treatment.

The choice of treatment depends on the stage and extent of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health and individual circumstances. Treatment plans are often customized to address the unique characteristics of each case. In some cases, a combination of treatments, such as surgery followed by chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, may be recommended.

Regular screening, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and seeking medical attention for symptoms or risk factors can play a significant role in preventing and detecting colorectal cancer at an earlier and more treatable stage. Treatment advances have improved the outlook for many individuals with colorectal cancer, particularly when the cancer is diagnosed in its early stages.