Colorectal cancer: Cost of urbanization
Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. It can affect almost any part of the body.
Cancer arising from the large intestine is referred to as colorectal cancer (CRC). It is one of the common cancers affecting both genders. Globally, it is the third most common cancer in men and the second in women (approx 10% of the total cases in each).
The number of CRC cases has increased drastically in certain economically mature parts of Asia. Although the incidence of CRC is low in India, there has been an increase in the past few decades. The rising pattern in incidence and mortality from colorectal cancer is more in the affluent compared to the poorer communities due to increase in urbanization and rapid changes in lifestyle.
Early CRC often has no symptoms, which is why a vigilant approach with screening is important.
It’s important to know the most common symptoms of colorectal cancer, which are:
Altered bowel habits
Unexplained weight loss
Some of the risk factors associated with colorectal cancer are:
Apart from advanced age and certain genetic and familial factors, lifestyle factors such as these contribute significantly to an increased risk of colorectal cancer:
•Diet low in fruits, vegetables and fibre
Is colorectal cancer curable?
Yes, colorectal cancer is a curable malignancy. But this is possible only if early diagnosis is made and treatment is initiated at the earliest.
Screening can lower CRC mortality by identifying cancer at an early and curable stage. CRC has a long preclinical phase and the survival of patients whose disease is detected at an early stage is favorable.
Because more than 90% instances of colorectal cancer occur in people over the age of 50, targeting this age group for screening is most important.
Screening tests for CRC broadly fall into two categories:
Faecal tests: These include Faecal Occult Blood Testing (FOBT), Faecal Immunohistochemical Testing (FIT), and sDNA.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, double-contrast barium enema (DCBE), and computed tomography colonography (CTC).
How can a person prevent the disease?
Regular screenings, beginning at age 50, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer. However, screenings aren’t the only way to prevention. The following diet and exercise adjustments can significantly reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer:
•Adding more whole grains to your diet
•Cutting back on red meat, such as beef and pork
•Reducing alcohol intake
•Maintaining a healthy weight
•Engaging in regular exercise
Talk to your doctor about the screening tests you require and how often you need them. If you’re at an increased risk due to a family history of colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, screening should start at an early age.
Remember, awareness about this ever-increasing menace is the need of the hour.
Find out more here.
This article has been written by Dr. Sonia Dhaka, MD Medicine, DNB-SS Medical Oncology, Consultant Medical Oncology, Grecian Superspeciality Hospital, Mohali.
For any query related to screening of colorectal cancers, please write to Dr. Sonia Dhaka at email@example.com