It's called a "red flag", not just for colorectal cancer but for lots of illnesses. A red flag to catch our attention.
Weight loss may remain unexplained, but endoscopy of your upper and lower gastro-intestinal tract should be part of your tests before this is accepted.
One in three will have a gastrointestinal disorder of some sort. Celiac disease and multiple medications upsetting one's stomach, need to be considered.
I sometimes just stop virtually everything a person is taking, and review daily, reintroducing one drug at a time as needed.
Most unintentional weight loss is not due to cancer.
Continual bleeding from our bowel is often too little to see in the faeces. We can replace the blood, but eventually our stores of iron needed for making it, become depleted.
The oxygen carrying red blood cells become smaller and fewer. They contain less haemoglobin and can carry less oxygen.
Our heart has to pump the blood around our body faster, to try and carry enough oxygen.
When the strength of our blood has dropped to about 2/3 of normal, we start to feel the effects. We may feel fatigue, headaches, faintness and breathlessness.
We may look paler than previously.
In women with heavy menstrual periods, these would be accepted as the cause provided there were no other symptoms suggesting gastro-intestinal trouble.
Otherwise, endoscopy top and bottom will usually be advised.
Caecum and ascending (right side) colon cancers may cause localized abdominal pain here.
Descending (left side) colon and sigmoid cancers are more likely to cause obstruction, and colicy central abdominal pain.
Large bowel obstruction may have been preceded by a period of increasing bowel difficulty, perhaps with passage of blood and slime.
Now distension and absolute constipation accompany the pain.
A bowel cancer will generally have been growing for 2-3 years before it causes symptoms.
The earliest symptoms can be quite subtle.
Years ago a man asked me about a change in his bowel habit. He had always used his bowels in the morning, but now was going at lunch time instead.
I failed to consider the possibility of bowel cancer and that cost him his life.
You don't forget things like that in a hurry.
A recent need for increased fiber in your diet or laxative medication, is another red flag.
A reason for needing the increased help should be sought
I spend a lot of time trying to pin people down as to how long a particular symptom has been present.
This is very important in lots of areas of medicine, if one is trying to find the cause of the symptom.
Long standing symptoms are generally due to "benign" causes - that is, not cancer. Benign is a funny word to describe something that has bugged you for years, but there you go.
The longer a gastrointestinal symptom has been present, the more likely it is to be caused by food and chemical intolerance, in my experience.
The irritable bowel syndrome and sinus pain pages have more on food and chemical intolerance.From colorectal cancer page to page on food intolerance
Any screening program needs a good test for people predisposed to an illness, or in an early stage.
This test needs to be safe and effective.
There has to be value in early diagnosis.
In the case of bowel cancer this is all kocher.
The test is non-invasive, although distasteful. Faecal occult blood (FOB) testing requires collection of a sample, but the kits are pretty good. It's not "hands on."
One positive test, even, needs follow up endoscopy. Colonoscopy does require a very thorough bowel clean out, needing a day in hospital for some elderly people and quite unpleasant for everyone else.
Colonoscopy itself is safe in good hands, and you are asleep then.
Premalignant lesions are usually removed with the scope, so you never get the cancer. If a cancer is found, it will usually be biopsied now to determine the type.
Faecal occult blood testing is recommended yearly for everyone over the age of 50 - unless otherwise advised by your doctor.
I need to state my bias immediately - I don't like conventional oncology. I see too many people have the last years of their life made miserable by this medical treatment.
I had the good fortune to watch a brilliant orthomolecular therapist working with cancer patients. One I remember well, a woman with carcinoma of her gall bladder.
This woman was president of some committee where she lived, over a hundred miles from here. She acted in this capacity until about a fortnight before she died, and her final period of severe debility lasted only about two or three days.
She had one injection only, of morphine. (not a lethal dose)
Her cancer had grown progressively into her liver over time, but she remained feeling well and functioning. This was typical of a lot of his clients.
The late agriculturalist and psychiatrist, Dr Ainslie Dixon Meares, collected many case histories of proven spontaneous cancer cures, from all over the world.
One he told us about has stuck in my mind. A woman in a Japanese village had a child out of wedlock. Her family put her in a barn, fed her but never even spoke to her. This went on for years.
She developed cancer. At this stage, her family forgave her and took her back into the family. The cancer went away.
It just goes to show what our body is capable of³!
Our body has the capacity to kill cancer cells, including those of colorectal cancer.
"Long ignored observations that the presence of high numbers of tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes around and within tumour tissue correlates with a high survival rate have been confirmed, almost half a century later, in more than 3400 patients with cancer of the breast, bladder, colon, prostate, ovary, rectum and brain.
A particularly striking difference was observed in a study of ovarian cancer in which the overall 5-year survival rates of patients with tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes versus none were 38% and 4.5%, respectively.
Indeed, evidence that the presence, location and density of T cells within colorectal tumours is a better predictor of survival of patients than tumour staging by size and spread challenges the prevailing clinical paradigm."
Those lymphocytes aren't killing the cancer cells themselves apparently, but are an indicator of the bodily defences.
German New Medicine, the brainchild of Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer, is a completely different take on disease in general.
He studied the relationship between stressful events and illness, and developed very successful strategies.
This treatment could be applied to colorectal cancer, as much as any other illness.
If you are inclined to look at possible alternative treatments for your cancer, these are two places to start...Cancertutor.com and Altcancer.com
One remedy to look at for relieving cancer pain, is really easy - maple syrup and bicarbonate of soda. Cancertutor.com have decided this isn't likely to be useful, but I've heard good anecdotal reports I'm inclined to believe.
If you google (simoncini bicarbonate cancer,) you'll find stacks on the use of bicarbonate. Dr. Simoncini is an Italian oncologist I gather, who uses bicarbonate.
Radiowave therapy is available in some countries. I have one patient who traveled to Europe for this. That person is alive and well to tell the tale.
This is not just for colorectal cancer. It is for all cancers.
Jenny Barlow's excellent site tells about this...www.radiowavebarlow.com
Cooked organic asparagus is worth considering. The article given to me by one patient advises making a puree and taking 4 tablespoons twice a day.
Over 90% of colorectal cancers develop from an adenomatous polyp in a process which takes an average of 10 years.
These polyps bleed, and if not doing this on the first occasion a faecal blood test is done, are likely to be bleeding the next time a yearly test is done.
This is really secondary prevention, dealing with a problem already developing.
Better to avoid the trouble in the first place.
There is a lot of evidence that diet is a major part of the cause.
Lack of fiber, vegetables and fruits, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, folic acid, selenium and vitamin A and D have all been implicated.
Vitamin D emerged as a protective factor in a prospective, cross-sectional study¹ of 3,121 adults aged ≥50 years (96% men) who underwent a colonoscopy. The study found that 10% had at least one advanced cancerous lesion. Those with the highest vitamin D intakes (>645 IU/day) had a significantly lower risk of these lesions.
In an analysis² of 16,618 participants in NHANES III, where total
cancer mortality was found to be unrelated to baseline vitamin D
status, colorectal cancer mortality was inversely related to serum
25(OH)D concentrations; levels >80 nmol/L were associated with a 72%
risk reduction than those <50 nmol/L.
Serum levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D (calcidiol) are the preferred measure of vitamin D supply from our skin and diet. The vitamin D has already undergone the first of two modifications by this stage, on the way to becoming an active hormone-like substance.
The active molecule, 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D, has roles in neuromuscular and immune function and reduction of inflammation. Many genes encoding proteins that regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis are modulated in part by vitamin D.
We make most of our vitamin D ourselves, in our skin. This depends on sunlight, and becomes less efficient with aging.
The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is acknowledged to be much higher than previously thought. One Australian study found marginal deficiency in 23% of women, and another frank deficiency in 80% of dark-skinned and veiled women.
The groups at greatest risk of vitamin D deficiency are dark-skinned and veiled women (particularly in pregnancy), their infants, and older persons living in residential care.
Only a few foods (eg, fish with a high fat content) contain significant amounts of vitamin D. In Australia, margarine and some milk and milk products are currently fortified with vitamin D.
When you have a blood test, it's worth asking your doctor to add a vitamin D test, if you've never had it done before.
If you do have a low Vit D result, it may be worth following up with a test for
1. Lieberman DA, Prindiville S, Weiss DG, Willett W. Risk factors for advanced colonic neoplasia and hyperplastic polyps in asymptomatic individuals. JAMA 2003;290:2959-67.
2. Freedman DM, Looker AC, Chang S-C, Graubard BI. Prospective study of serum vitamin D and cancer mortality in the United States. J Natl Cancer Inst 2007;99:1594-602.
3. This passage is from a pdf which is written in fairly easy to read language... http://bioinfo.mni.th-mh.de/cancer/hobohm-2008-cri-pamp.pdf
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Our individual cells have useful lifespans, after which they are replaced by nearby cells dividing into two. The exhausted cells bow out gracefully by a process called apoptosis. It's described as gene directed, programmed cell death, a sort of controlled implosion.