Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer or colon cancer includes any type of neoplasms of the colon, rectum, and appendix. They begin as polyps in the intestinal mucosa that, for various reasons, evolve into malignant tumors. It is the third most diagnosed cancer in the world. Its prevalence is about 370 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Colon cancer is one of the most diagnosed tumors on the planet. The exact cause that triggers the tumor is currently unknown, but risk factors that significantly contribute have been identified.

  • Sex: Colon cancer is more common in men than in women, with an estimated diagnosis of 1 in 23 men and 1 in 24 women.
  • Age: Although it can appear at any age, most affected individuals are over 50 years old.
  • Ethnicity: It is more common in people of African American descent.
  • Personal history of cancer or polyps: People who have had non-cancerous polyps in the colon are more predisposed to developing the disease.
  • Inflammatory bowel conditions: Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis increase the risk.
  • Hereditary syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome.
  • Lifestyle: Diets with lower amounts of fiber and the consumption of ultra-processed foods, as well as a sedentary lifestyle, contribute to the increased risk.
  • Obesity.
  • Smoking.
  • Diabetes.

Symptoms

It is very common for colon cancer to have no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms do appear, they can vary slightly depending on their location, and may include:

  • Blood in the stool.
  • Changes in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation, or changes in the consistency of the stool.
  • Abdominal discomfort with cramps, gas, and/or pain.
  • Sensation of incomplete evacuation.
  • Unexplained weight loss.

Prevention

Colon cancer screening programs have been a great advance for early diagnosis, making the prognosis, in most cases, very favorable. Due to the important role of genetics and the heritability of colon cancer, it is recommended that all people over 50 years old, with a family history of the disease, undergo these early detection tests.

Additionally, there are other measures that can be taken to reduce risk:

  • Preferential consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, avoiding the consumption of ultra-processed foods.
  • Avoiding alcohol and tobacco consumption.
  • Engaging in regular physical exercise.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight.

In people at high risk of colon cancer, there are some medications that can reduce the risk of developing precancerous polyps. In these cases, it is recommended to consult a doctor.

Number of observed variants

13.5 million variants

Number of risk loci

74 loci

Genes analyzed

ACTR1B B9D2 BLM BMP2 BMP4 BMP5 BOC CCND2 CDKN1A CDKN2A CDKN2B CHRDL2 COL4A2 COLCA2 CTNNB1 DUSP10 EDN1 EDNRB FERMT1 FMN1 FOXC2 FOXL1 GATA3 GREM1 HAO1 HHIP IER3 KLF2 KLF5 LAMA5 LAMC1 LRP1 MAF MAMSTR NXN PARD6B PITX1 PLCL1 PLEKHG6 PNKD POLD3 POU5F1B PREP PREX1 PTGER4 PTPN1 RHPN2 SATB2 SBF2 SF3A3 SFMBT1 SH2B3 SKOR1 SLC25A28 SLC6A18 SMAD6 SMAD7 SMAD9 TBX3 TERT TET2 TFEB TMEM238L TMPRSS12 TNFRSF6B TNS3 TOX2 TTC22 TULP1 UTP23 VTI1A WNT4 ZMIZ1

Bibliography

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