Colorectal conditions include disorders of the colon and rectum. Colorectal conditions range from a mild irritation to life threatening conditions such as cancers. Early screening and treatment of colorectal conditions can improve treatment outcomes and survival rates. Disorders that affect the colon’s function may include:
Colon cancer is the growth of rapidly dividing cells in the large intestine. It is also referred to as colorectal cancer. Cancers of the colon develop from polyps, the small and non-cancerous growths of tissues. Colon cancer usually begins in glands lining the colon and rectum. Colon cancer initially begins as noncancerous tumours and gradually develops into cancer, which spreads to other tissues. Treatments depend on the size, location, and stage of the cancer. Colon cancer may be treated using chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or surgery. Colon cancer can be treated using anti-cancerous medications or radiation depending on the site and severity of cancer. These treatments can be used alone or in addition to surgery to destroy the remaining cancer cells and to prevent from further spreading. Colectomy is the most common procedure performed to remove the cancer cells. It is the surgical resection of all or part of the large intestine.
Colon polyps are extra fleshy growth that develops on the lining of the large intestine (colon) protruding into the intestinal canal. Colon polyps are more common in older individuals. Colon polyps are non-cancerous, but some polyps become cancerous. Colon polyps are usually not associated with symptoms, however they can be associated with the presence of bleeding from the anus, blood stools, abdominal pain, mucous discharge, changes in bowel movements, and constipation or diarrhoea. In most cases, polyps can be removed during colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy examination and then tested for cancer. During colonoscopy, polyps can be removed by snaring them with a wire loop passed through the instrument and burning the tissue with electric cautery.
Surgery is required in some polyps that cannot be removed with the instruments because of their size or location. Polypectomy is surgical excision or removal of a polyp.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease condition that causes diarrhoea (frequent, loose stools) and ulcers in the lining of the colon and rectum. It can occur at any age and is more common among people of the age group between 15 and 30 years. It has a tendency to run in families. The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are pain in the abdomen and blood stained diarrhoea. There may also be symptoms such as anaemia, tiredness, loss of appetite, rectal bleeding, sores on skin, and pain in the joints. Growth failure may occur in children with this disease. In most of the cases, the symptoms of ulcerative colitis are very mild, but when it is severe, it causes frequent fever, nausea, and painful cramps in the abdomen.
Diverticular disease is a common disorder of the large intestine (colon) which involves two conditions, namely diverticulosis and diverticulitis. Diverticulosis is a condition which occurs commonly in individuals aged 40 and above, where small pouches form in the lining of the large intestine. These are often the weak spots. When these pouches are inflamed, the condition is known as diverticulitis. Diverticulosis and diverticulitis combined together is the diverticular disease. A low-fibre diet is often the cause for diverticular disease. Most people may not have any discomfort, but some people complain of severe cramps in the lower part of the abdomen, bloating, constipation, and blood in the stools.
A diet containing lots of fibre and fluids can help reduce symptoms of diverticulosis. Your doctor will prescribe an oral antibiotic, pain reliever and advise bed rest. A liquid diet is recommended in order to rest the colon. If the symptoms of diverticulitis recur and you do not respond well to the antibiotics, your doctor may recommend surgery, which involves removal of the affected part of the colon (colon resection).
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as the name implies, refers to inflammatory condition of the bowel or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It is a group of disorders characterized by inflammation of the bowel or any part of the GI tract. Though the exact cause of the condition remains unknown, the genetic and non-genetic or environmental factors are thought to play a part. All these factors may impair the normal functioning of the immune system, and the body’s defence mechanism attacks the body’s own tissue, causing inflammation of the mucosal lining. Treatment for these inflammatory conditions include the drug therapy with corticosteroids and immunomodulators or the surgical resection of the affected part.