According to the research conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2018, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly occurring cancers in men and the second most commonly occurring cancers in women. It is estimated that colorectal disorders are responsible for almost 700,000 cancer deaths. The shocking fact is that over 1.8 million cases were reported in 2018!
Colorectal diseases have a wide range of conditions. The intensity of the disease varies from mild to life-threatening. Most people may ignore the disease as the symptoms closely resemble other diseases. To prevent the misdiagnosis and mistreatment it is important to know the most common benign colorectal disorders and their symptoms.
Common Coloproctology Disorders
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD):
This is a common term used for describing the disorders including the chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. This can be debilitating as well as life-threatening.
There are majorly two types of IBDs:
1) Crohn's Diseases: This is the chronic inflammation in any part of the digestive tract from mouth to anus. This condition commonly affects the tail end of the small intestine. Crohn's disease usually has skip lesions with healthy intestinal segments in between and involves full thickness of intestinal wall. Earlier this condition used to be more common in West only, but with changing lifestyles , increasing stress and more of junk food, its incidence is increasing in India as well.
2) Ulcerative Colitis (UC): The condition causing long-lasting inflammation and sores in the innermost lining of the large intestine and the rectum is known as Ulcerative Colitis. A person is more likely to develop if he/she has a genetic component.
Severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and fatigue, weight loss, blood in the stool, etc are the major symptoms for both the conditions.
Medical management is the mainstay of both Crohn's as well as Ulcerative colitis, and surgical interventions needed only in severe complications especially in UC
Long-standing IBDs especially UC puts the patient at a higher risk of developing Colorectal cancers.
A blockage in the large or small intestine that prevents the movement of digesting food and liquids is known as intestinal obstructions. This can be due to benign growths lipomas, twisting of intestines (volvulos), kinking due to adhesions from previous surgeries or pulling in of a part of intestine into adjacent intestinal part ( Intussusception), narrowing due to strictures from inflammatory bowel disease or infections like tuberculosis, or malignancies ( lymphomas or cancers).
In case not relieved on time, this can develop a pressure that ruptures the intestine, leaking harmful intestinal contents and bacteria into the abdominal cavity. This can lead to life-threatening problems if left untreated. Severe abdominal pain with cramps, bloating, loss of appetite, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and inability to pass gas or stool are the major symptoms of this disease.
Diverticula is the presence of small bulging pockets that develop in the lining of the intestine. The inflammation or infection of diverticula is known as Diverticulitis or Diverticular disease. Severe pain either in the lower-left or the right side of the abdomen may last for several days in such cases.
Nausea, vomiting, fever, constipation, and diarrhoea are some of the common symptoms of this condition. This can cause small adjacent pus pockets in the abdominal cavity or perforate to cause the faecal matter and pus disseminate throughout the abdominal cavity leading to life-threatening conditions.
These are the lumps developed inside (internal haemorrhoids) and around (external haemorrhoids) the anus.
Internal hemorrhoids are distinguished by painless bleeding and protrusion during bowel movements. They develop within the anus beneath the lining. External hemorrhoids are developed near the anus. They are hard, sensitive and painful.
This is a small hole or tunnel in the cleft at the top part of the buttocks, filled with hair, pus, and fluids. This is painful and can get infected easily. Sometimes it can transform into an abscess or cysts. This condition is more common in people who are very hairy especially around the buttocks especially if they keep sitting for prolonged periods. the hair breaks off and gets into the skin end on due to continuous friction.
A condition when a cavity in the anus becomes filled with pus. It creates extreme pain, fatigue, rectal discharge, and fever. A block in anal gland, sexually transmitted infections (STI), or an infected anal fissure can cause anal abscesses. If this abscess doesn’t heal, it can turn into a painful anal fistula. Swelling of the skin around the anus, constipation, bleeding or rectal discharge, fatigue, etc. are the major symptoms.
A fistula in ano/ complex fistulas:
This is a condition when an abnormal tunnel is developed with an internal opening in the anal canal and an external opening in the skin near the anus. This is common among those who have had a perianal abscess. There are various types of fistula depending upon which part of the sphincters they have involved.
If not treated by dedicated specialists trained in coloproctological problems, they can recur multiple times or excess cutting of sphincters can cause incontinence.
Fissure in ano:
This is a small, oval-shaped tear in the lining of the anus caused by passing hard stools, dry bowel movements, diarrhea or inflammation of the anorectal area. They are considered as acute if present for less than 8 weeks and they are defined as chronic if present for more than 8 weeks. Major symptoms are pain during bowel movements, blood in the stool and crack in the skin around the anus.
About Dr. Shabnam Bashir
Dr. Shabnam Bashir has time and again proved her extensive and versatile expertise as a Colorectal Cancer Surgeon. This is validated by the successful cases of patients that she has dealt with.Read More