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Dr. Krishna Prasad

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a tumour of the colon or rectum (large intestine). Metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) is the cancer that spreads to the liver and sometimes to the lungs, bones, or other organs. In India, colorectal cancer is among the top 10 cancers. It is more common in developed nations, although the number of cases has also been rising in developing countries such as India.

Around 25% of patients are diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer.

The symptoms include blood in stool, abdominal pain, otherwise unexplained iron deficiency anaemia, and/or a change in bowel habits. The less common symptoms include abdominal distention, and/or nausea and vomiting, which may be indicators of obstruction.

People above 50 years of age or those with a family history of colorectal cancer are at a greater risk. Those suffering from diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are also at risk.

Potentially modifiable behaviours such as physical inactivity, smoking or drinking, and long-term consumption of red meat or processed meats are thought to account for a substantial proportion of new-onset CRC.

The screening tests for detecting CRC are stool for occult blood, digital rectal examination, and colonoscopy.

The treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. In the last two decades, the treatment methods have evolved with personalized therapies.

The factors that determine the outcome of treatment are age, stage, co-morbidities, left v/s right colon, and certain genetic changes (like RAS mutation).

Let us create awareness about this deadly disease and keep in mind that colorectal cancer is preventable, beatable, and treatable.


This article has been written by Dr. Krishna Prasad, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Mangalore Institute of Oncology, Pumpwell Circle, Kankanady, Mangaluru.