Introduction

Rectal cancer is cancer that forms in the rectum. The rectum is the last few inches of the large intestine. It begins at the end of the final segment of the colon and ends when it reaches the short, narrow passage leading to the anus, says Dr Suvadip Chakrabarti, a rectal cancer doctor in Kolkata. In the past, long-term survival was unusual for people with rectal cancer, even after extensive treatment. However, with medical advancements, rectal cancer survival rates have
significantly improved. Thanks to surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and targeted
therapy treatment advances over the last few decades.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of rectal cancer include:

  • A difference in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or more frequent bowel movements
  • A sense that the bowel doesn’t empty completely
  • Dark maroon or bright red blood in stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Narrow stool

Causes

Rectal cancer starts when healthy cells in the rectum develop changes in their DNA. The DNA of cells contains the instructions that tell them what to do. The unusual changes in the DNA of some cells direct them to grow uncontrollably. Over time these cells grow and accumulate forming a tumor. The cancer cells can grow and destroy healthy tissue nearby with time and travel to other parts of the body. For most rectal cancers, it’s not apparent what causes the mutations that lead to cancer.

Risk factors

Rectal cancer risk factors include:

Older age

Rectal cancer can be diagnosed at any age, but most people with this type of cancer are older than 50.

Family history

One is more likely to develop this condition if they have a family history of rectal cancer.

Eating habits

Rectal cancer can be associated with a diet low in vegetables and high in red meat.

Too little exercise

If one is inactive, they are more likely to develop rectal cancer.

Diabetes

People with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of rectal cancer.

Obesity

Obese people have an increased risk of rectal cancer compared to people considered at a healthy weight.

Prevention

According to the rectum cancer specialist in Kolkata, to reduce the risk of rectal cancer, one should consider:

Cancer screening

Rectal cancer screening reduces the risk of development of cancer by identifying polyps in its precancerous stage.

Exercise 

One should try to get 30 minutes of exercise every day. Inactive people should start slowly and build up gradually to 30 minutes.

Eat healthily

One should include fruits, vegetables and whole grains containing vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants in their diet as they play a substantial role in cancer prevention.

Limit alcohol 

People who drink should do so in moderation. For adults, it is suggested to limit drinking to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.

If you suffer from rectal cancer, consult Dr Suvadip Chakrabarti, a rectum cancer specialist in Kolkata.