understand the causes and symptoms of the disease


bowel cancer

Photo: Shutterstock / Saúde em Dia

According to data from INCA (National Cancer Institute), the bowel cancer it is the third most frequent type among men. It is second only to prostate and lung cancer. In addition, it is also the second most incident in women, second only to breast cancer. Thus, the condition encompasses tumors that start in the large intestine (colon), rectum (end of the intestine) and anus.

Causes and symptoms of bowel cancer

According to Artur Ferreira, an oncologist at the CPO/Oncoclínicas, most of these tumors arise through the malignant transformation of the cells that cover these organs. That is, the problem tends to be serious. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention.

“As a group, they have numerous causes, among which overweight and obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and alcoholism stand out. In addition to high consumption of red meat and processed meat, low fiber and vegetable intake, diabetes and infections such as hepatitis B and C, infection by Helicobarter Pylori and infection by the Human Papillomavirus, the HPV”, he explains.

In addition, according to Renata D’Alpino, leader of the specialty of gastrointestinal tumors, blood in the stool can be an early indication that something is not going well in health. “Many people usually credit this occurrence to other conventional causes, such as hemorrhoids, and end up postponing the search for medical advice and carrying out specific tests. This makes many people only discover the cancer in advanced stages”, she clarifies.

The doctor says that often the tumor is only discovered late, in the face of more severe symptoms, such as anemia, constipation or diarrhea without apparent causes, weakness, gas and abdominal cramps, or even weight loss.

Diagnosis and prevention

The main form of prevention and diagnosis is through the colonoscopy exam. Made with a flexible tube and a camera at the end, where it is introduced into the intestine, it makes images that reveal the presence of possible changes. Allowing, in this way, even the removal of polyps and biopsies of suspicious lesions.

In Brazil, the Ministry of Health recommends starting colon and rectal cancer screening in the adult population at usual risk in the age group of 50 years. But many countries have already reduced it to 45 years.


It all depends on the type, location of the tumor and also how it is presented, located or disseminated. However, in general, the approach may include surgery, chemotherapy (combined or not with radiotherapy), molecular-targeted drug therapies, and immunotherapy.

According to Artur, they are potentially curable diseases when diagnosed in their early stages. “They are practically incurable when they are disseminated throughout the body, in metastases”, he adds.

Therefore, early screening is important so that the diagnosis catches the tumor in its early stage and the chance of cure is greater.

Sources: Artur Ferreira, oncologist at CPO/Oncoclínicas; Heber Salvador de Castro Ribeiro, oncologic surgeon and vice president of the Brazilian Society of Oncologic Surgery; Renata D’Alpino, oncologist and leader of the specialty of gastrointestinal and neuroendocrine tumors of the Oncoclínicas Group.

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