Can colorectal cancer be prevented?

Simple lifestyle modifications like reducing body weight, increasing physical activity, and eating more fibre can go a long way in keeping the disease at bay.
Globally, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and the second most in women.(Pexels)
Globally, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and the second most in women.(Pexels)
Updated on Mar 11, 2020 09:04 AM IST
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ByBy Dr. Suman S. Karanth

Globally, colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer in men and the second most in women. There were nearly 8,61,000 deaths from colorectal cancer in 2018.

By 2040, there will likely be a 53 percent rise in the number of patients requiring chemotherapy every year.

In India alone, there are 51,856 new cases reported every year. The number of cases in the age group of 40-50 is steadily increasing. What is more distressing is a rise in the number of cases in the age group of 20-39.

Dr. Suman S. Karanth
Dr. Suman S. Karanth

Simple lifestyle modifications like reducing body weight, increasing physical activity, eating more fibre—at least 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables per day—and consuming less animal fat, especially red meat, can go a long way in preventing CRC.

However, risk factors like a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, a close family member suffering from CRC before the age of 50, history of multiple polyposis in the family and age per se pose a high risk for CRC and cannot be modified. However, even in such cases, early detection and intervention can mitigate this risk.

You should report to your oncologist in case of any blood in stools, alternating constipation and diarrhoea lasting more than few days, unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain or anaemia. Screening for early detection with colonoscopy once in 10 years or sigmoidoscopy every 5 years and stool occult blood test annually are recommended for all individuals above the age of 50 years.

With modern-day multidisciplinary treatments, patients who are diagnosed with CRC can be expected to have better survival rates with a good quality of life. CRC is preventable, treatable, and curable when detected early.

Know more about colorectal cancer here.

This article has been written by Dr. Suman S. Karanth, who is a Consultant Medical Oncologist at Fortis Memorial Research Institute. Her expertise includes treatment of all solid malignancies and lymphoma. She has a special interest in neuro – oncology and GI Oncology. She has a vast experience in administration of dendritic cell therapy and Immunotherapy.

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