According to the American Cancer Society, over 101,000 new cases of colon cancer and over 44,000 new cases of rectal cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2019. Because of the prevalence of colorectal cancers, knowing about them is important to all people, especially those who are caregivers to older adults.
General Information About Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancers are those that begin in either the colon or the rectum. They are specifically referred to as either colon cancer or rectal cancer depending on where they start.
The colon is part of the large intestine. It’s about 6 feet of muscular tubing that connects the small intestine to the rectum. The job of the colon is to help process waste products by removing liquids from stool and storing them until the next bowel movement. The rectum is about 8 inches long and is the part of the large intestine between the colon and the rectum. Stool moves from the colon through the rectum and out the anus.
Colorectal cancer usually starts out as a polyp, which is a growth that happens in the lining of the colon or rectum. Over time, some kinds of polyps can turn into cancer. When a polyp turns cancerous, the cancer can spread from the lining of the colon or rectum into their walls and beyond, affecting other parts of the body.
Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer
Not everyone with colorectal cancer will experience the same symptoms. If you notice any of the following symptoms in your aging relative, report them to the doctor:
- Blood in the stool, which can make it appear black.
- Red blood coming from the rectum.
- Changes in bowel habits, including diarrhea and constipation.
- Abdominal pain and bloating.
- Feeling full even if they haven’t eaten for a while.
- Losing weight without trying.
- Feeling like the bowel doesn’t empty right after a bowel movement.
- Iron deficiency without another underlying cause.
These symptoms can also indicate other kinds of medical conditions, so it is important that the senior be seen by a doctor. This is especially true if the symptoms persist for more than four weeks.
Early detection of cancer can improve the chances of treatment being successful. Senior care providers can drive older adults to screening appointments for colorectal cancer. If the older adult is diagnosed with colorectal cancer, a senior care provider can assist with their care during treatment and recovery. A senior care provider can help them to manage side effects, allow them to rest, and drive them to treatment appointments.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring senior care in Los Gatos, CA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers today (408) 259-5930.