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The Links Between IBD and Colorectal Cancer

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The Links Between IBD and Colorectal Cancer

Dec 18, 2018

Colorectal cancer is one of the deadliest and most prevalent cancers that face the world today. Part of the insidious nature of colon cancer is due to how many instances go undetected until the cancer has already advanced, which offers a bleak outlook in many cases. One of the best ways to beat colon cancer is to stop it before it spreads, and with this comes knowing the risks associated so your doctor can order the proper tests every year. Recently, scientists have determined there is a strong correlation between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colon cancer. Read on to learn about the elevated risks of colorectal cancer (CRC) with IBD and what you can do to prevent a diagnosis.

Learning About Inflammatory Bowel Disease

With so many acronyms, it’s easy to get confused when it comes to some GI terms. Patients often confuse IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), and while these two conditions share some common attributes, they are not the same. IBS refers to a chronic functional condition that manifests with abdominal cramping and discomfort, as well as other symptoms such as diarrhea and bloating. While it does require long-term management to provide a patient with a better quality of life, it is not especially serious.

IBD, however, is quite different. Inflammatory bowel disease is a blanket term used to describe two separate conditions that involve inflammation of the digestive tract, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC). Both conditions cause inflammation to the digestive tract not only in different areas but in different ways. IBD is slightly more serious, as digestive tract inflammation can be permanent. IBD is also correlated with colorectal cancer, and 15 percent of IBD deaths are attributed to bowel cancer.

Studying the Correlation

Scientists are not sure why there is a higher risk for colorectal cancer for those patients who have IBD. It is believed that it is due to changes and alterations in DNA. There is also a connection between the constant inflammation that inflammatory bowel disease causes and colorectal cancer pathogens.

It’s possible to miss the symptoms of IBD, so you should consult your doctor immediately if you experience diarrhea, reduced appetite, blood in the stool, bloating, abdominal pain, or fatigue for more than several days. Once you have an IBD diagnosis, your physician may want to take a deeper look and have you tested earlier than suggested for colorectal cancer.

Knowing the Risk Factors

Some risk factors of IBD and CRC both are genetic. You can’t change your genetics, so there is little that can be done in the arena of prevention, but there are other known risk factors you should consider. Smoking and the overuse of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are connected with IBD.

When it comes to colorectal cancer, patients are advised to avoid red and processed meats, drinking in excess, and smoking. Obesity has also been connected with colorectal cancer, so patients are encouraged to lose weight and lower their body mass index (BMI).

One of the strongest connections with colorectal cancer and diagnosis is family history. If one of your first-degree relatives had a colon cancer diagnosis, you should inform your doctor immediately so they can perform the necessary testing. The current age guidelines for colorectal cancer screening indicate the first colonoscopy (or other test) should be performed at age 45, but if you have known risk factors, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor and have the test earlier for early detection or peace of mind. If you need more information about colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease or you would like to be seen by a doctor, book an appointment with Carolina Digestive today. With eight office locations and five endoscopy centers, your checkups are convenient and comfortable.