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Dr. Gautam Makadia

Globally, nearly 12 lakh new cases of colorectal cancer (CRC) are noted per year. The mortality rate from this cancer alone is estimated to be around 6 lakh.

The incidence of CRC is rapidly increasing in our country. Etiology of CRC-increased incidence is seen with high-calorie diets, alcoholism, smoking, red meat consumption, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and diabetes.

On the contrary, a diet high on antioxidants, vitamins, fresh fruits, and vegetables is associated with a reduced incidence of CRC. A familial predisposition/hereditary risk of developing CRC in a family member harboring the syndromic genetic mutation must be kept in mind.

So, it is also important to screen people for genetic mutations that cause CRC.

Please note that CRC doesn't happen overnight. Therefore, identifying the symptoms of the disease in the pre-invasive stage is important. These include altered bowel habits, abdominal discomfort, bloating in the abdomen, weight loss, blood loss through stool, and anorexia.

Some of the screening methods for colorectal cancer include fecal occult blood test, colono-sigmoidoscopy, and barium enema. The risk profiles of patients are decided by doctors.

For many patients, detection of CRC in the pre-invasive stage is not possible. However, if we can identify it in an early stage, then the burden of treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy) is significantly improved. In some cases, the patients might not even need chemotherapy!

Unfortunately, we see many patients coming to us for treatment in the advanced/metastatic stage.

However, thanks to the recent advancements in chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and supportive care, there is more hope for such patients.

This article has been written by Dr.Gautam Makadia, Shashwat Haemato-onco Associates, Rajkot.