Intestinal Cancer

Types of Intestinal Cancer

There are several types of intestinal cancer, including:
Colorectal cancer: This is the most common type of intestinal cancer, which occurs in colon or rectum. Colon is the large intestine, and rectum forms the last several inches of colon. Colorectal cancer is also the third most common cause of cancer deaths in United States.
Anal cancer: This type of cancer occurs in the anus, which is the opening at the end of the digestive tract.
Small intestinal cancer: This type of cancer occurs in the small intestine - a part of the digestive tract that connects stomach to large intestine.


Symptoms of intestinal cancer can vary depending on its location within the intestine. 


  1. Changes in bowel habits: Persistent diarrhoea, constipation, or other changes in bowel habits that last for more than a few days. 
  2. Blood in the stool: Blood in stool which may appear as bright red or dark and tarry. 
  3. Abdominal pain or discomfort: Persistent or intermittent abdominal pain. 
  4. Unexplained weight loss. 
  5. Fatigue. 
  6. Iron deficiency anaemia: Iron deficiency anaemia can occur when intestinal cancer causes bleeding leading to low level of iron in blood. 


It is important to note that some people with intestinal cancer may not experience any symptoms at all. This is why regular screening tests, such as colonoscopies, are important for detecting precancerous polyps or early stages of cancer before symptoms occur. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor for an evaluation. 

What Are the Causes of Bowel Cancer or Intestinal Cancer?

Though exact causes of bowel cancer are unknown, certain high risk factors mentioned below are noteworthy.

Genetics: While inherited genetic mutations are not among the main causes, certain genetic conditions like Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) can increase the risk of developing this cancer.
Age: Incidence increases with age, mostly being over the age of 50.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): IBD including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, have an increased risk of developing intestinal cancer.
Personal or family history of intestinal polyps or cancer.
Diet: A diet that is high in red and processed meats and low in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains increases the risk of developing intestinal cancer.
Smoking and alcohol consumption.

Not all people with these risk factors will develop intestinal cancer, and some people with no known risk factors may develop this cancer. Regular screening tests, such as colonoscopies, are important for detecting precancerous polyps or early stages of cancer before symptoms occur. If you have risk factors for intestinal cancer, talk to your doctor about appropriate screening and prevention strategies.

How to Prevent Intestinal Cancer?

Some of the most effective ways to prevent intestinal cancer are as below,

Screening: Regular screening tests, such as colonoscopies, can help detect precancerous polyps or early stages of cancer before symptoms occur. Talk to your doctor about when to start screening and how often to have it done.
Maintain a healthy weight: Regular exercise and a balanced diet keeps a check on body weight and thus can reduce risk of cancer.
Consumption of healthy diet: Consumption of diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and avoid or limit intake of alcohol, red and processed meats can help reduce risk of intestinal cancer.
Don't smoke: Smoking is a major risk factor for many types of cancer, including intestinal cancer. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce risk of developing this cancer.
Limit radiation exposure: Exposure to high radiation levels can increase the risk of developing intestinal cancer. Limit your exposure to medical radiation, such as CT scans and X-rays, and avoid unnecessary exposure to environmental radiation.
Manage underlying conditions: If you have inflammatory bowel disease or other conditions that increase your risk of developing intestinal cancer, work with your doctor to manage these conditions and reduce risk.
Talk to your doctor: In case of a positive family history or other risk factors, discuss appropriate screening and prevention strategies. They can provide guidance and support to help reduce risk of developing this cancer.

While there is no way to guarantee that you won't develop intestinal cancer, taking these steps can significantly reduce your risk and improve your overall health.


There are four stages of intestinal cancer: 


Stage 1: The cancer is limited to innermost lining of the intestine. 

Stage 2: The cancer has grown through the innermost lining of intestine into the muscular layer. 

Stage 3: The cancer extending through the muscular layer to involve adjacent lymph nodes. 

Stage 4: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as liver or lungs.

Intestinal Cancer FAQs

Is intestinal cancer hereditary? 

While most cases of intestinal cancer are not caused by inherited genetic mutations, there are certain genetic conditions that can increase the risk of developing this cancer. 


Can intestinal cancer be cured? 

In many cases, intestinal cancer can be treated and cured if caught early. However, the prognosis will depend on the type and stage of cancer. 


How common is intestinal cancer? 

Intestinal cancer is a relatively common form of cancer, with colorectal cancer being the most common type. 


What are the symptoms of intestinal cancer? 

The most common symptoms of intestinal cancer include abdominal pain, bloating, cramps, changes in bowel habits, blood in stool, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue. 


What are the risk factors for developing intestinal cancer? 

The risk factors for developing intestinal cancer include age, family history of the disease, history of inflammatory bowel disease, a diet high in red and processed meat, smoking, alcohol and obesity. 


How is intestinal cancer diagnosed? 

Intestinal cancer is typically diagnosed by a multimodal approach involving medical history, physical examination, blood tests, radiological imaging such as CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays. A biopsy may also be performed to confirm the diagnosis. 


What is the treatment for intestinal cancer? 

The treatment for intestinal cancer depends on the stage of the disease and include surgery to remove the cancerous tissue, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. 


Can intestinal cancer be prevented? 

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent intestinal cancer, there are steps that individuals can take to lower their risk, such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and undergoing regular screening for the disease. 


How long does it take for intestinal cancer to develop? 

The development of intestinal cancer is a slow process that can take several years or even decades. The exact timeline varies from person to person and depends on a variety of factors, such as lifestyle, genetics, and overall health. 


What is the prognosis for intestinal cancer? 

The prognosis for intestinal cancer depends on several factors, such as the stage of disease, age and overall health of the patient, and the effectiveness of the chosen treatment. When caught early, the prognosis is generally good.  However, if cancer has spread to other parts of the body or is diagnosed at a later stage, the prognosis may be less favourable. 

Diagnosis of Intestinal Cancer

In the presence of symptoms of intestinal cancer, diagnostic tests including a thorough physical examination, blood profile, radiological imaging like CT scan or MRI, biopsy of the intestinal lining i...

Intestinal Cancer Treatment and Management

Intestinal cancer treatment and management depends on the stage and location of cancer, as well as the overall health of the patient. Treatment include:

Surgery: Surgery is often the first-line intestinal cancer treatment. Depending on..

  • Road to Recovery and Aftercare

    Post treatment, it is important to continue with follow-up care to monitor for any signs of recurrence. This may include regular check-ups with your doctor and imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRI. 


    It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as consumption of a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking and heavy alcohol consumption.

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