How Crohn’s Disease Is Linked To An Increased Cancer Risk
Crohn’s disease is a debilitating and painful type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes the tissues in the digestive tract to be inflamed, resulting in malnutrition, extreme weight loss, fatigue, severe diarrhoea, and abdominal pain.
This inflammation may develop in various parts of the digestive tract and differs between individuals. However, it most commonly occurs in the small intestine, which then spreads towards the bowel.
Crohn’s disease is a manageable condition, and while it may not be fatal and curable, the disease can sometimes lead to severe complications, such as an increased cancer risk.
The truth is that while the general risk of developing cancer is relatively low, the disease still poses an increased cancer risk as compared to someone without Crohn’s disease. In this article, we will help you understand those risks so as to protect yourself better.
What cancers are Crohn’s disease linked to?
If you have developed Crohn’s disease, your risk of developing small intestine cancer and colorectal cancer increases — your risk of developing cancer increases when your body suffers from severe, chronic inflammation.
Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that results in the body attacking its own tissue constantly. The constant attack on the digestive tract leads to the inflamed portions being in a repetitive state of inflammation and repair.
With the high turnover rate of replenished cells constantly being attacked by the body, there is bound to be a risk of an error in the replaced cells’ DNA that results in the development of cancer. And the longer the Crohn’s disease is not managed, the higher the risk of cancer development.
In addition, depending on the medication you are required to take to manage Crohn’s disease, you could also develop an increased risk for lymphoma, which is a type of blood cancer, as well as skin cancer. Although, the risk for developing cancers apart from the anus, rectum, colon, or small intestines is pretty rare.
How to reduce your risk?
While Crohn’s disease is still unfortunately incurable, it can be managed effectively with medicative treatment. In fact, many individuals with Crohn’s disease are able to live an everyday life with timely treatment.
Hence, controlling the inflammation is vital in reducing your risk of developing cancer. Here are some steps to help you keep your cancer risk at bay:
- Be disciplined in taking your prescribed medication: The prescribed medication, such as immune system modulators and anti-inflammatory drugs, is going to be your best friend in helping you keep Crohn’s disease and its cancer risks at bay. As long as you take your medications regularly, you will not have to worry much.
- Make modifications to your lifestyle: While the exact cause of the disorder is not known, elements such as stress and diet are found to aggravate it. Hence, managing your stress, exercising regularly, and choosing a well-balanced diet will help. Even developing habits to start your day right helps.
- Work closely with your gastroenterologist: That means keeping up with your gastroenterology screenings and visits. If you have had Crohn’s disease for at least eight years, you should conduct a colonoscopy every one to two years.
The danger of colon cancer is its asymptomatic nature, especially in the initial stages.
And even if symptoms do surface, they can be disturbingly similar to those of Crohn’s disease. Hence, as long as you suffer from any of the GI symptoms mentioned, whether it is IBS symptoms or Crohn’s disease symptoms, do not wait. Get your body checked.
The sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you get your condition under control, reducing the dangers of chronic inflammation and reducing your risk of developing cancer. Here at GUTCARE, we provide a wide range of gastrointestinal-related services to keep your digestive system as healthy as possible.
Click here to make an appointment with us today!