Symptoms and Causes of Colorectal Cancer ~ Health Guide

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Symptoms and Causes of Colorectal Cancer

Written by Mystic on Monday, August 04, 2008

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is a malignant tumour which begins in the mucosa, or inner lining, of the colon or rectum. It usually develops from a small benign growth called an adenoma. An adenoma is a kind of polyp (tissue knob) which grows out of the inner lining of the bowel wall. Colorectal cancer may break away from the original (primary) site and spread or metastasise through the blood and/or lymph systems to other parts of the body where secondary deposits of cancer are formed.

Symptoms of colorectal cancer

Symptoms of colorectal cancer are often vague and non-specific at the beginning. They may include the following:

* Changes in normal bowel pattern such as diarrhoea or constipation or a sensation of incomplete rectal emptying.
* Blood (either bright red or dark) or mucus mixed with or separate from the faeces (stools).
* Abdominal cramps or pain.
* Weakness, malaise or unexplained weight loss.

Blood is especially important if it is accompanied by any of the other symptoms or signs mentioned above. Bleeding may be due to simple conditions such as haemorrhoids (piles) or fissures (splits in the skin inside the anus), however it could be cancer, and investigations should be prompt.

What causes colorectal cancer?

The exact cause of colorectal cancer is unknown. In fact it is thought that there is not one single cause of colorectal cancer. It is more likely that a number of factors, some known and many unknown, may work together to trigger the development of colorectal cancer.

There are certain risk factors that have been identified which may increase a person's risk of developing colorectal cancer. However, having one or even several of these characteristics does not mean that a person is certain, or even likely, to develop colorectal cancer.

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