How to identify it and prevent rectal cancer


Rectal cancer is cancer that begins in the rectum. The rectum is the last centimeter of the large intestine. It begins at the end of the last segment of the colon and ends when it reaches the short, narrow passage leading to the anus. Cancer inside the rectum (rectal cancer) and cancer inside the colon (colon cancer) are often referred to together as “colorectal cancer”.

Although rectal cancers and colon are similar in many ways, their treatments are very different. This is mainly due to the fact that the rectum is in a confined space, barely separated from other organs and structures. This narrow space can make surgery to remove rectal cancer challenging.

In the past, long-term survival was rare in people with rectal cancer, even after a intensive treatment. Thanks to advances in treatment over the past few decades, survival rates for rectal cancer have improved dramatically.

Symptoms of rectal cancer

The signs and symptoms of rectal cancer include the following

a change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation or more frequent bowel movements

Dark brown or bright red blood in the stool

Feeling that your bowel is not emptying completely

Abdominal pain

Unexplained weight loss

Weakness or fatigue

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have persistent symptoms that worry you.

Causes of rectal cancer

Rectal cancer begins when healthy cells in the rectum develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. A cell’s DNA contains the instructions that tell the cell what to do.

These changes tell cells to grow out of control and continue living after death healthy cells. Cells that accumulate can form a tumor. Over time, cancer cells can grow to invade and destroy nearby healthy tissue. And cancer cells can break off and travel (metastasize) to other parts of the body.

For most rectal cancers, it is not known exactly what causes mutations at origin of cancer formation.

Inherited genetic mutations that increase the risk of colon and rectal cancer

In some families, genetic mutations passed down from parents to children increase the risk of colorectal cancer. These mutations are only implicated in a small percentage of rectal cancers. Certain genes linked to colorectal cancer increase the risk of developing the disease, but they do not make it inevitable.

There are two well-defined genetic syndromes of colorectal cancer:

Lynch syndrome

– Lynch syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, increases the risk of colon cancer and other cancers. People with Lynch syndrome tend to develop colon cancer before the age of 50 years.

– Familial Adenomatous Polyposis

FAP is a rare disease that causes thousands of polyps in the lining of the colon and rectum. People with untreated FAP have a significantly higher risk of developing colon or rectal cancer before the age of 40 years. Genetic testing can detect these and other rarer inherited colorectal cancer syndromes. If you are concerned about your family history of colon cancer, ask your doctor if your family history suggests a risk for these conditions.

Rectal cancer risk factors

The factors that can increase the risk of rectal cancer are the same as those that increase the risk of colon cancer. The risk factors for colorectal cancer are as follows:

Advanced age

Colorectal cancer can be diagnosed at any age, but most people with this type of cancer are over 93 years old. Rates of colorectal cancer in people under 50 years are on the rise, but doctors aren’t sure why.

Inflammatory bowel disease

Chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon and rectum, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s, increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

Hereditary syndromes that increase the risk of rectal cancer

Genetic syndromes passed down from generation to generation in your family may increase your risk of colon and rectal cancer, including AFP and Lynch syndrome.

Family history of colorectal cancer

You are more likely to develop colorectal cancer if you have a parent, sibling or child with colon or rectal cancer .

Eating a diet low in vegetables

Cancer co lorectal may be combined with a diet low in vegetables and high in red meat, especially when the meat is charred or undercooked.

Too little physical exercise

If you are inactive, you are more at risk of developing colorectal cancer. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of cancer.


People whose type 2 diabetes that is poorly controlled may have an increased risk of colorectal cancer.


Obese people have an increased risk of colorectal cancer compared to people considered to be of a healthy weight.


People who smoke may have an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

Alcohol consumption

Regular consumption of more than three alcoholic beverages per week may increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

Radiotherapy for previous cancer

Radiation therapy directed to the abdomen to treat previous cancers may increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

Prevention of rectal cancer

To reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, consider trying A:

1 Talk to your doctor about cancer screening

Colorectal cancer screening reduces the risk of cancer by identifying precancerous polyps in the colon and rectum that could turn into cancer. Ask your doctor when you should start screening. Most of the time, it is recommended to start screening at 50 years of age, or earlier if you have risk factors for cancer colorectal.

There are several screening options, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Discuss your options with your doctor, and together you can decide which tests are right for you.

2 Exercise most days of the week

Try to get at least minutes of exercise most days. If you’ve been inactive, start slow and gradually build up to 30 minutes.

3 Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains

Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, which may play a role in preventing cancer.

Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables to benefit from a set of vitamins and nutrients.

4 Maintain a healthy weight

If you are at a healthy weight, maintain it by exercising regularly and adopting a healthy diet. If you are overweight, try to lose weight slowly by exercising more and reducing the number of calories you eat.

5 Quit smoking

If you smoke, quit. If you’re having trouble quitting, talk to your doctor about your options. Medication and counseling can help.

6 Drink alcohol in moderation, if you do

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, this means up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

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