Colorectal cancer: signs, symptoms & advancements

Discover colorectal cancer symptoms as well as the latest advancements in the field in this video with Jade Parker, Oncology Central Editor.


To mark Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month we have made this video to give you a bit more information on the signs, symptoms and advancements being made in the field of colorectal cancer.

To start off, let’s have a look at the colon. Colorectal cancer is a cancer that starts in the colon or the rectum. The majority of colorectal cancers begin as a growth called a polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. It is important to note that not all polyps develop into cancer and that these polyps can take years to develop into cancer.

Therefore, regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful weapons against colorectal cancer. With regular screening, doctors can locate and remove polyps before they have the chance to turn into cancer.

Some of the symptoms of colorectal cancer include

  • Blood in the stools without other piles symptoms
  • A change in bowel habit lasting 4–6 weeks or more
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • A pain or lump in your stomach area

All of these symptoms can be caused by less serious conditions so the most important thing is to know what is normal to you so you can notice any changes.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and the second in women worldwide. Globally, there are 1361,000 cases of colorectal cancer annually and 694,000 people die as a result of the disease.

Taking a closer look, in 2018, it is estimated that in the US there will be 140,250 new cases of colorectal cancer and 50,630 deaths a result. The highest estimated incidence rates are in Australia/New Zealand (ASR 44.8 and 32.2 per 100,000 in men and women respectively), and the lowest in Western Africa (4.5 and 3.8 per 100,000).

What advancements are being made in the field of CRC?

First up we have seen great advancements in genetic profiling of the disease. Another hot topic is emerging surgical approaches for CRC. These include hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy and the use of robotics during surgery.

The emergence of immunotherapy has revolutionized oncology and CRC is no different. There are currently six approved immunotherapies for colorectal cancer patients. These include Cyramza®, Avastin®, the monoclonal antibodies Erbitux® and Vectibix® and finally the two anti-PD-1 checkpoint immunotherapies Opdivo® and Keytruda®.

On a related note, vaccines have also yielded positive results for CRC, of note is the Trovax vaccine. Trials have so far indicated that the vaccine is well tolerated, but it is currently unclear how efficacious a treatment it may be.

Last up, the microbiome has proved a popular topic in CRC research with some studies suggesting that an individuals own microbiotic profile may influcence how they respond to chemotherapy.

To find out more about these advancements and more about where the field of CRC cancer is heading make sure to click the link in our bio where you can get full access to our latest editorial Colorectal cancer: what have been the biggest advancements?.

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