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Colorectal Cancer

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Major diseases of the gastrointestinal tract

Ignoring obvious symptoms, when to report to your doctor
what is a Bowel polyp?
Colon cancer
Cancer of the Colon
Colorectal Cancer

Cancers of the large intestine are a major health problem in the western world (USA, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, most of Western Europe and Australia).

Western lifestyle appears to be a major contributory factor as this type of cancer is rarely seen in the populations of Africa and Asia. It appears that a diet rich in Animal fat and very little plant fibre found in Vegetables and Fruits contributes to the high prevalence of this disease in the populations of the world who have decided to adopt a western type lifestyle.

It is quite likely that the combination of a diet high in animal fats and lacking in fibre may create a chemical environment within the lumen of the large intestine that favours errors in cell division and promotes formation of chemicals that may trigger the formation of polyps and growth of cancers.

Formation of carcinogenic chemicals and other toxic substances from dietary contents by the action of Bacteria, yeasts and other parasites may be contributory factors.
It is known that smokers are more likely to get colorectal cancer due to the carcinogenic chemicals present in swallowed smoke.

It is thought that the longer these chemicals linger in contact with the lining of the intestinal wall, the more likely they are to cause damage.
By eliminating these toxins as they form and not allowing those to linger in the body you will reduce the chances of the toxins causing the harm they are known to do.
Slow Gut transit time and motility of the gastrointestinal tract will allow formation of these chemicals and allow them to linger in contact with the gut mucosa longer than is safe. This may also be a contributory factor.


A change in diet and lifestyle accompanied by regular and complete elimination of faecal waste from the colon and rectum may help prevent this life threatening condition.


How does cancer start?


Undetected errors of cell division due to damage to DNA-the genetic material that instructs cell function.

Normal cell divisionà DNA damageà abnormal cell divisionà Benign Polypà Cancer

The body’s cells divide and multiply all the time for growth and repair of tissues. Normal cell division poses no problems. Mistakes do happen during cell division and are picked up by the body’s immune system and the rogue cells are usually destroyed before any major damage takes place.

Occasionally however, the immune system fails to identify and destroy abnormal cell division and this can lead to the multiplication and growth of the abnormal cells. This abnormal growth is called a cancer. This type of growth can occur and is more commonly found in tissue that makes up the breast, skin, the prostate gland, lymph cells and the lung.

When abnormal growth occurs in the cells that make up the inner lining of the colon and rectum, colorectal cancer is the result.
Unchecked growth of cancer cells can spread into deeper surrounding tissues and can spread through the blood vessels and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
The unchecked growth of the cancer cells sucks a disproportionate amount of nutrients and energy from the body and leads to weakening of the entire body with loss of weight, energy and resistance to infections.

growth in colorectal cancer is usually not cancerous and appears as a small nodule protruding out of the inner lining of the large intestine. This nodule is called a polyp and is normally benign and not capable of invading or spreading into the deeper layers of the intestinal wall.
An additional factor such as a carcinogenic toxin triggers further errors in the cell multiplication process within the polyp and this can lead to unchecked abnormal cell division and cancer.

The primary growth or tumour occurs locally in the inner lining of the bowel wall. It appears to protrude out into the lumen of the intestine but may also be growing into the deeper layers of the intestinal wall.
The entire wall thickness may be invaded and the growth may also attach itself to other nearby organs such as the bladder or vagina in women. The growth commonly attaches and grows into the nearby loops of the small intestine.

Spread of the growth via the lymphatic system and blood vessels leads to what is termed Secondary growths or metastases.
This growth travels to nearby organs such as the liver, lung and bone but has the capacity to invade any part of the body.

 

Early detection of colorectal cancer is crucial to achieve an effective cure for the condition.

In some people, the cancer has already spread to other organs by the time recognizable symptoms appear and a firm diagnosis is made.

Colorectal cancer presents with symptoms that may not suggest anything sinister and months and sometimes years may go by before people will visit the Doctor to seek advice.

More often than not this is due to embarrassment. Colorectal cancer can occur anywhere in the colon and rectum. Cancers in the rectum and sigmoid colon are more common but can occur in the Cecum as well as the ascending and transverse colon.

Symptoms such as Rectal Bleeding, an altered bowel habit that continues for more than two weeks and abdominal bloating should ring alarm bells.

Visible blood on the surface of the stool or mixed in with it and fresh blood during a bowel motion should be reported and investigated to eliminate any sinister cause.


A dark or black coloured stool may be due to blood mixed in with the faecal contents from a bleeding cancer in the Cecum, ascending colon or transverse colon.
A persistent black coloured stool may be due to other causes but should be reported for further investigation.


Steady loss of blood from a bleeding cancer may cause anaemia. Anaemia can be due to many different causes but when present with other symptoms, should be thoroughly investigated.

As the cancer grows, it can cause a partial blockage of the intestinal passage and may lead to symptoms such as constipation, gas, abdominal bloating, and a constant sensation of the need to go. This sensation of incomplete emptying of the bowel when accompanied by blood in the stool and unformed thin strips of faeces may be due to a growth in the wall of the rectum.

Benign Polyp- the possible warning signs

The growth of polyps in the colon can result in bleeding or blockage. At this stage the warning signs may be:

A change in bowel habit-new onset of constipation.

Bleeding from the rectum.

Cramping pain in the lower abdominal area.

Blood in the stool or toilet bowl after bowel movement.

A change in the shape of the stool, particularly pencil thin stools.

A feeling of discomfort and the constant feeling of the need to empty the bowel when there is no need to do so.

Sudden abnormal weight loss.

 

Diagnosis

All the procedures required for a firm diagnosis are unpleasant but most essential.

An initial internal rectal examination may lead to the detection of a cancer in the lower rectum.

 

Sigmoidoscopy

 

This is an internal examination using a hollow plastic telescope that is inserted into the rectum. This allows observation of the rectum and lower sigmoid colon. A small piece of tissue from any abnormal observation (called a biopsy) may be taken for further investigation in the lab.

 

Colonoscopy

 

This procedure allows a more complete evaluation and observation of the large intestine using an instrument called a colonoscope. This is the best test for early detection of polyps and cancer and should be offered to anyone over the age of 40 years and especially to those with a family history of colorectal cancer.
Your family doctor can carry out a test that examines the faeces for blood. The test is called faecal occult blood test. A positive result should be an indication for a colonoscopy.

A colonoscope is a long, flexible telescope that can be inserted from the anus all the way around the colon and also into the terminal ileum.
This procedure allows the inner lining of the colon and rectum to be examined minutely and any abnormalities biopsied for further investigation. Any small polyps found during this investigation can be removed and a future cancer prevented.

In order for the inner surface of the colon and rectum to be clearly visible for examination, the bowel needs to be thoroughly cleaned and involves the use of strong osmotic laxatives the day before the procedure is to take place.

The person undergoing the procedure may be given a general anaesthetic or more commonly a mild sedative.

 

How to heal and prevent Bowel disorders

Diet is not about what you should NOT eat, it’s about what you should include in the diet that matters.
As long as your diet includes the correct balance of plant foods containing soluble fibre, insoluble fibre and resistant starch your colon will produce the perfectly formed stool. The important next step is to evacuate this stool without straining so that the body does not suffer from the pressures created each time the bowel is emptied.

In order to heal and prevent bowel disorders you need to make lifestyle changes that last the rest of your life time.

1. Include more fluids and plant food containing soluble fibre, insoluble fibre and resistant starch in the diet so that the perfectly formed stool will be made in the colon and beneficial bacteria will flourish and eliminate disease causing bacteria and fungi.

2. Evacuate the perfectly formed stool by adopting the squat posture to eliminate the need to strain during bowel movements.

It is not possible or safe to squat on the modern raised toilet seat installed in all western homes and it is impossible to squat for any length of time if you have not done this from childhood onwards. This makes the use of any raised platforms impossible to adapt to.

The SquattLooStool is designed to allow you to adopt the squat posture while seated comfortably on your raised toilet seat. The single best and easiest lifestyle change you will ever make, leading to a healthier body.

 

Connection between colorectal cancer and posture adopted for evacuation