Colorectal cancer isn’t always accompanied by noticeable symptoms, and its symptoms are frequently mistaken for hemorrhoids. Colorectal cancer is a highly curable type of cancer, but primarily because of its lack of symptoms-it accounts for approximately 20 percent of malignant disease deaths in this country. It also can easily spread to surrounding tissues and organs.
One of the most significant risk factors for calorectal cancer is a history of digestive disorders, specifically polyps (small tumors on the inner lining of the colon) and ulcerative colitis. A diet high in animal products (including meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products) is another risk factor. Colorectal cancer risk increases significantly after age 40.
Signs and Symptoms
In its early stages, colorectal cancer often produces no symptoms. When it reaches later stages, the most common symptoms are:
- Change in bowel movements, including diarrhea, constipation, or change in shape of stools
- Rectal bleeding
- Blood in or on stool
- Abdominal cramps or pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite and weight loss
Conventional Medical Treatment
If you notice any symptoms of colorectal cancer, See your physician immediately. Your doctor will probably examine your rectum with a gloved and, check a stool sample for the presence of blood, and take a blood test. A barium X-ray, CAT scan, colonoscopy, or sigmoidoscopy also may be required to confirm the presence of a tumor.
Surgery to remove the diseased portion of rectum or colon is the most common treatment for colorectal cancer. If the tumor has spread outside the colon, chemotherapy is typically administered following surgery to decrease the chance of recurrence. If the cancer is too widespread for surgery, chemotherapy alone may be prescribed.
Complementary and Alternative Treatments
Nutrition and Supplementation
In addition to following the nutrition and supplementation recommendations listed under the general “Cancer” entry, you would be wise to include 30 grams of fiber daily in your diet. Fiber facilitates the transit of food through your body. Obtain fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. At first you may notice an increase in gas, but that problem will clear up quickly. Cabbage juice helps prevent colorectal cancer. Be sure to add a teaspoon of vitamin C to your juice.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture – Obesity increases one’s risk for getting colon and rectal cancer; acupuncture can be used to correct overeating and help maintain weight loss.
Acupressure can be used to promote blood circulation and improve the flow of energy throughout the body. Pressing on Pericardium 6 (located on the inner forearm about 2 inches above the wrist) can help quell queasiness and vomiting caused by conventional medical treatments.
Acupressure also can be used to help control diarrhea or constipation, which may be especially uncomfortable for an individual with colon or rectal cancer.
Chinese Herbal Therapy The American Cancer Society conducted a study of astragalus and found that the herb repaired immune system functioning in 90 percent of the cancer patients involved in the study. Other research has shown that individuals who take astragalus during chemotherapy recuperate faster and live longer than those who don’t.