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Colorectal Cancer: Risk Factors and Treatment

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  • 0:01 Warning Signs
  • 0:45 Colorectal Cancer
  • 2:40 Risk Factors
  • 4:53 Diagnosis & Treatment
  • 5:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will discuss colorectal cancer, adenocarcinoma, and adenomas. We will talk about the early warning signs that someone may develop colorectal cancer as well as diagnostic and treatment strategies.

Warning Signs Before Cancer

People invented warning signs for a reason. We've got warning signs on the roads telling you to slow down, watch for boulders, ice on a bridge, and for a dangerous curve. These are there to save your life. I think that most people heed these early warnings because no one really wants to fall off of a cliff and die.

Our body is also full of warning signals that tell us that something dangerous is happening or is about to happen. For some strange reason, some people, stereotypically men, do not heed these warnings and end up needlessly dying as a result. This lesson will be about one specific form of cancer and the many warning signs associated with it.

What Is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer in the United States, is a malignant tumor of the large intestine's colon and/or rectum. Specifically, the most common type of colorectal cancer, also known as colon cancer, is an adenocarcinoma. An adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that develops from glandular tissues and cells. The prefix 'adeno-' refers to a gland and '-carcinoma' refers to a malignant tumor.

The colon is full of glands that are responsible for lubricating the passage of feces. If this lubricating mucus wasn't there, believe me, it would be very painful to go number two. It would feel like you've got sandpaper down there. In general, cancer can arise for any number of reasons, but genetic predisposition to a cellular mutation or damage from other diseases, toxins, and pathogens can exacerbate this predisposition or can cause cancer all on its own. The ultimate result is that normal cells become cancerous, grow out of control, and spread, resulting in a person's death.

The way cancer mutates, then grows out of control and spreads reminds me of human mob mentality. Many times gigantic riots start from one oddball event, akin to a mutation, that captivates a lot of people, and spreads around city streets wreaking havoc and death upon anyone the mob reaches.

In hindsight, news organizations always have 20/20 vision and claim that there were plenty warning signs that should've been seen and acted upon prior to this massive riot. Therefore, it's important we now look into what the warning signs - that is to say risk factors - are for the development of colorectal cancer so that you are aware of what to look out for long before a big mob, or a big tumor, grows out of control.

Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

For starters, an adenocarcinoma is sometimes preceded by an adenoma, which is a benign tumor of glandular origin. Note how, because the prefix 'adeno-' is present, we are still referring to glands, but because the suffix '-carcinoma' is missing from 'adenoma,' we are not implying a malignant tumor when we say the word 'adenoma.'

The adenoma that most everyone is familiar with respect to this cancer is an adenomatous polyp, or simply 'polyp.' Some of these polyps can develop into colorectal cancer. That is why a rectal exam, even with the finger alone or via colonoscopy, is so important for people. A polyp is like a big red warning sign telling you and your doctor 'stop, pay attention, there is something very wrong here, and it must be taken care of now so it doesn't get any worse.' If a polyp is removed, cancer can be prevented. If cancer can be prevented, your life can be saved.

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