Colorectal cancer: Who should be screened and why?

People should routinely undergo colonoscopy after the age of 50 years while those at an increased risk because of a medical or family history should begin screening before the age of 50.
CRC is diagnosed through colonoscopy and biopsy.(iStock)
CRC is diagnosed through colonoscopy and biopsy.(iStock)
Updated on Mar 20, 2020 09:18 AM IST
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ByBy Dr.Pinaki Mahato

The colon and the rectum (together known as the large intestine) are the end parts of the gastrointestinal system. They help process food and rid the body of solid waste. Colorectal cancer (CRC) or cancer of the large intestine is very common in the western world. The incidences are also rising in India. CRC usually begins as a noncancerous growth called a polyp that develops on the inner lining of the colon or rectum and grows slowly, over a period of 10 to 20 years. Cancer arising from the inner lining of the colorectum is called adenocarcinoma and accounts for approximately 96% of all CRC.

Dr.Pinaki Mahato
Dr.Pinaki Mahato

The risk factors of CRC include increasing age and lifestyle factors such as low-fiber diet, processed meat, obesity, smoking, alcohol, family history, chronic inflammatory bowel disease or the presence of polyp in the colon. The common symptoms of CRC are stomach discomfort, bleeding in stool, and a change in bowel habits lasting for more than a few days, or sudden weight loss. People should routinely undergo colonoscopy after the age of 50 years while those at an increased risk because of a medical or family history should begin CRC screening before the age of 50.

CRC is diagnosed through colonoscopy and biopsy and CT imaging is done to stage the tumor. Stage 1 and 2 are usually are treated through surgery alone while Stage 3 cancer requires chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. For Stage 4 CRC, recent advances in pathology have helped in sub-classifying the tumor biology type to decide which treatment can be best offered in the form of targeted therapy and immunotherapy. All these treatments have contributed to better survival chances of CRC patients.

To reduce the risk of CRC, one should be active, maintain a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods, avoid smoking and alcohol, and keep their body weight under control.

Know more about colorectal cancer here.

This article has been written by Dr. Pinaki Mahato (DM. MD), Consultant – Medical Oncology, HCG Cancer Center, Vadodara, Gujarat.

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Thursday, June 30, 2022