Colon cancer mostly occurs in those older than 50 years of age.(iStock)
Colon cancer mostly occurs in those older than 50 years of age.(iStock)

Spread awareness about colorectal cancer

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the world. About 18 lakh cases were diagnosed and nearly 8.5 lakh deaths occurred due to colon cancer in 2018, according to global cancer database GLOBOCAN.
By By Dr. Venkata Pradeep Babu Koyyala
UPDATED ON MAR 24, 2020 12:32 PM IST

In this article, we are going to discuss colon cancer in a very simple language. The layman approaches cancer with an emotion that astronomy or even electricity does not arouse. Patients consider cancer diagnosis as one of the most traumatic and revolutionary events of their lives. Independent of the prognosis, the diagnosis brings with it a change in a person’s self-image and his or her role at both home and the workplace.

The human body is made up of trillions of cells. These cells contain an important regulatory component called the DNA, which contains genes. These genes control the way our cells function. When we say cancer, it is not a single disease, but a collection of related diseases, where the common aspect is that some of the body’s cells have begun to divide uncontrollably.

Dr. Venkata Pradeep Babu Koyyala
Dr. Venkata Pradeep Babu Koyyala

More than 1,300 patients die due to cancer in India every day. More than 70% of them are in the age group of 30-70 years. By the time you finish complete reading this article, two new cancer cases in India will have already been detected in the country.

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the world. About 18 lakh cases were diagnosed and nearly 8.5 lakh deaths occurred due to colon cancer in 2018, according to global cancer database GLOBOCAN. Although the highest number of colon cancer cancers is witnessed in the West, the incidences are rapidly rising in Asia, particularly India. This may be due to changing dietary patterns and environmental factors.

Colon cancer mostly occurs in those older than 50 years of age. However, of late, 25-year-olds have also been falling prey to it. The reason for this dangerous epidemiological shift is yet to be understood. Preliminary studies suggest that prolonged television viewing is a risk factor for colon cancer.

The genetic changes that cause cancer can be inherited from our parents or arise during a person’s lifetime. The latter can be attributed to errors during cell division or certain environmental exposures. There is a condition called Lynch syndrome, which causes hereditary colon cancer and increases the risk of other cancers such as endometrial cancer.

There are at least five such syndromes that can cause colon cancer. Medical conditions like acromegaly (an overgrowth syndrome), patients with ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease and renal transplantation are some of them.

So, the question that arises in everyone’s mind: what are the factors that increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer? Obesity is one of them, with more and more colon cancer-related deaths seen among those who are overweight.

Diabetics are 1.3 times more likely to get colon cancer than non-diabetics.

One more factor is the consumption of red meat. Dietary supplementation and adequate levels of calcium, pyridoxine vitamin and vitamin D may be protective against colon cancer. The importance of exercise should also not be undermined.

We are exposed to chemicals, pesticides, pharmaceutical drugs, cosmetics, and various types of radiation and magnetism every day. Some of these may be carcinogenic, but most of them are unavoidable.

I conclude with a few words. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It affects all sections of the society. As a famous pathologist said, “The only way to avoid cancer is not to be born, to live is to incur risk.” Be vigilant and spread awareness. Once cancer occurs, the next thing is to find out the best possible treatment for it. If you are surrounded by the best of people, fighting against cancer is not impossible.

Know more about colorectal cancer here.

This article has been written by Dr. Venkata Pradeep Babu Koyyala, MD (Gen.Med) DNB (Medical Oncology) Consultant, Medical Oncology, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre, New Delhi.

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