The real causes of bowel cancer are unknown. However, it seems that dietary habits could have a role in bowel cancer development.
- History of colonic polyps
- Chronic inflammatory bowel disease – ulcerative colitis
- Family history of bowel cancer
Could include one or more of the following:
- Blood in the stools or black stools
- Change in bowel habit or alternating diarrhea with constipation
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal bloating
In some cases, bowel cancer may cause a total bowel obstruction. In such cases, patients might complain about vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain and there are cases where bowel cancer is an incidental finding in colonoscopy.
Both diagnosis and stage will be confirmed by medical history, clinical examination, blood and stool testing, colonoscopy, CT, MRI and PET scan.
The main treatment of bowel cancer is surgical resection. Both radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be administered after surgery in order to prevent recurrences, to treat metastases or in a palliative setting (i.e. pain control). Sometimes special treatments might be used (radiofrequency ablation in liver or lung metastases).
Bowel cancer is almost always curable if it is diagnosed in early stages. Bowel cancer prevention includes regular colonoscopy after 50 years of age. The frequency of testing depends on the person’s risk factors and the findings of previous colonoscopies.