90% of colon cancer cases can be cured if discovered in time: Study

  • AFP, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 22, 2016 10:00 IST
With early detection, colon cancer can be cured in approximately 9 out of 10 cases, say researchers. (Shutterstock)

Colorectal cancer can be cured in 90% of cases if discovered in time, finds a new study, reaffirming the crucial importance of its early detection.

Gastroenterologists who monitored 2,325 patients between 2000 and 2015 report that 85% of operations to treat the disease were conducted on advanced tumours.

Five years later, only 49% of those treated had survived. These results will be presented at the AFC (French Surgeons Association Congress) congress to be held in Paris from September 28 to 30.

The second most prevalent cancer among women and the third most prevalent among men, colon cancer is often fatal. However, with early detection it can be cured in approximately 9 out of 10 cases.

Thereafter, the new study reports, if the disease is detected when intestinal occlusion has already occurred, the five-year survival rate dwindles to less than 50%. For gastroenterologists, this finding underlines the importance of preventive examinations for those over 50.

Between 2000 and 2015, researchers monitored 2,325 patients (1,226 men and 1,099 women), who were treated as a matter of urgency in 58 centers for localized and metastasized colon cancer. The average age in the study group was 74.2 years, with 1,306 under 70.

The study found that the majority of patients (87% of those with right colon cancer and 82% of those with left colon cancer) who underwent emergency surgery for locally advanced tumors, which had not been diagnosed early enough, spent two weeks in hospital: a stay that would have been much shorter if the disease had been detected sooner.

Five years later, the survival rate was just 49%

For patients with cancer on the right side of the colon, the postoperative mortality rate was 10% with an overall complication rate of 52% (36% medical morbidity, and 28% surgical morbidity).

For patients with cancer on the left side of the colon, the mortality rate was 9% with an overall complication rate of 50% (32% medical — 30% surgical), and a 20% rate of definitive stoma. It is worth noting that more than 15% of patients who underwent emergency surgery required a permanent artificial anus.

The second most prevalent cancer among women and the third most prevalent among men, colon cancer is often fatal. (Shutterstock)

“If it is detected sufficiently early, colorectal cancer can be cured in 90% of cases. There are major differences in short-term results (mortality and postoperative complication), but also in the long term (five-year survival rate) that depend on the stage of the disease and the possible need for emergency surgery,” points out Patrick Pessaux, the head of the hepato-biliary and pancreatic surgical unit at the University Hospital of Strasbourg.

Preventive colonoscopy for those over 40

For those with a family history of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, doctors strongly recommend preventive colonoscopies after the age of 40, whose goal is not to detect a cancer, but to prevent the disease from declaring. People in this category are up to ten times more likely to develop colorectal cancer.

A colonoscopy performed under general anesthetic allows a doctor to examine the intestinal wall and to detect the presence of polyps (benign tumors), which can be removed during the procedure.

These findings will be presented at the AFC (French Surgeons Association Congress) congress to be held in Paris from September 28 to 30.

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