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Dr. Sanyo P. Dsouza

Globally, Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is the 3rd most common cancer in men and 2nd most in women. In India, around 49,500 deaths occur due to colorectal cancer.

In CRC, the cells in the colon or rectum divide uncontrollably, producing a tumour.

When the cancer has spread from the colorectal area to other parts of the body, it is called metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) or Stage-4 disease.

Colorectal cancer commonly occurs in people older than 50 years, but can affect young people too.

The risk factors are hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome, a diet high on fats and red meat but low on fiber, smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, and lack of physical activity.

Colorectal cancer commonly presents as change in bowel habits (loose stools or constipation), blood in stools, pain in the abdomen, or weakness (due to low hemoglobin).

Diagnosis is through digital rectal examination, sigmoidoscopy / colonoscopy (looking inside the lumen of rectum or large intestine through a scope), and biopsy of the lesion.

Surgery forms the mainstay of treatment for stages 1 to 3, followed by chemotherapy. For rectal cancer, a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy is administered before surgery.

Chemotherapy is the mainstay of treatment in stage 4. It helps improve the quality of life and prolong survival.

Certain genetic biomarker testing in blood, such as ‘RAS’, helps your oncologist decide the treatment in mCRC. More personalized treatment regimens are helping improve the survival rates in this stage.

You can lower your risk of CRC by being physically active, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, limiting the intake of fast food, alcohol, and red meat, and quitting smoking.

#It’s NeverTooLate

This article has been written by Dr. Sanyo P. Dsouza, Consultant Medical Oncologist, KMC Hospital Mangaluru, Karnataka.