What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is cancer that affects the large intestine (colon) and rectum (back passage). It is the second leading cause of death from cancer in US and UK. Read on to view the full details.

Dr. Samrat Jankar Created on 22nd Feb, 21

Most early-stage colorectal cancer has no symptoms at all and is detected during routine screening examinations. The most common symptom of colorectal cancer is a change in bowel habits.


Other symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • Having alternate diarrhea or constipation
  • Feeling that your bowel does not empty completely
  • Finding blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool
  • Frequently having gas, pains or cramps, or feeling full or bloated
  • Losing weight with no known reason
  • Fatigue, generalized weakness, and anemia
  • Presence of perianal pain and swelling.

Usually, early cancer does not cause pain. It is important not to wait to feel pain before seeing a doctor.



Risk factors are:

  • Familial History of colorectal cancer. First-degree relatives (parents, brothers, sisters, or children) of a person with a history of colorectal cancer are somewhat more at risk to develop. If several close relatives have a history of colorectal cancer, the risk is even greater. This is because of genetic alteration.
  • Environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle, mainly high fat more red and refined meat, and low fiber. Increased sugar, Decreased Calcium, Decreased Garlic, Pulses and non-starchy Vegetables, and long history of constipation.
  • Obesity - 50 to 80% more likely in obese people.
  • Older age more than 50years: More than 90% of people with this disease are diagnosed after age 50. But now day’s younger age also presenting with colorectal cancer developing more aggressive form.
  • Chronic smoking and alcohol consumption: increased risk of developing polyps and colorectal cancer.

Known case of ulcerative colitis and Chon’s disease



Early-stage colorectal cancer presents without any symptoms. The good news about colorectal cancer is majority of cancer arises from pre-existing polyps, which are non-cancerous. This polyp exists in the colon for many years before they turn into cancer. 


Thus if you develop colonic polyp and they are removed early, it decreases the risk for the development of cancer. Even if polyp turns into cancer, if diagnosed in the early stage it is definitely curable through keyhole surgery.



We would advise a normal person without risk to do a colonoscopy starting at age of 50 and to repeat every 5 years. This will reduce risk. According to Dr. Jankar, gastroenterologist in Pune, "too high-risk person such as, familial cancer history or having IBD we recommend to do colonoscopy from the age of 40 years or ten years before they reach the age of their family member who developed cancer." Unfortunately in India, less than 5% of adults are screened for colorectal cancer.


Having colorectal cancer, what next?

  • Don’t worry in the present era, colorectal cancer is 100% treatable if managed properly. Colorectal cancer can be cured if it is removed from the body before it spreads to other organs;
  • Polyp can be cured with colonoscopy without any surgery.
  • Early-stage cancer can be cured with keyhole surgery.
  • Metastatic disease with spread to the liver can be managed very well with newer drugs followed by keyhole surgery.
  • Thanks to advancements in medical technology. Keyhole surgery can be performed and stoma can be prevented in 90% of cases.


Yes! Colorectal cancer can be preventable. Having a healthy high fiber diet, doing regular exercise for at least 45 min and regular screening for cancer whenever indicated can keep you away from colorectal cancer. A few small changes can make a big difference:


To conclude we can say that sensible modification of diet and lifestyle will decrease the 70% risk of colorectal cancer. If you are 50 years or more call your doctor today to schedule a colonoscopy.



Relevant Questions

Q. My grandfather was diagnosed with GERD, how can he be treated?

GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the ring of muscle between your oesophagus & your stomach. This can usually be controlled with medication. If you wish to avoid long-term medication then we recommend: Fundoplication. Plan a consultation with Dr Samrat Jankar, our expert gastroenterologist. He will provide the best possible & effective treatment for this. 

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Q. If i want to reduce weight, then what all options do i have, surgically or otherwise?

Each weight loss surgery option presents unique risks and benefits, so it's important to compare them. There are many surgical options out there, like Bariatric surgery, gastric bypass surgery, Sleeve gastrectomy etc. For further details, you can visit our clinic or book an appointment @+917904139064. 

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Q. How does non-vegetarian food cause acidity?

Yes, non-vegetarian food causes acidity or may lead to acid peptic disease. If you are experiencing so, then take less spicy and less oily food. You can have chicken and eggs but should avoid them being cooked in a fried oily manner.

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Q. Can i know about bariatric surgery and the criteria on meeting which i will qualify for this surgery?

To be eligible for bariatric surgery, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or have a BMI between 35 and 40.
  • An obesity-related condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or severe sleep apnea.
  • Weigh less than 450 pounds, the maximum weight that hospital radiology equipment can accommodate. If you need to lose weight to meet this requirement, a nutritionist is available to help.
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Q. My brother has sleep apnea most probably due to his obesity, how can that be treated?

For milder cases of obstructive sleep apnea, we recommend some lifestyle changes. Such as, 

  • Lose weight if you're overweight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Use a nasal decongestant or allergy medications.
  • Don't sleep on your back.
  • Avoid taking sedative medications such as anti-anxiety drugs or sleeping pills.
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