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Dr. Vijith Shetty

The global cancer burden rose to approximately 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths in 2018.

This is due to factors such as population growth and ageing as well as the changing prevalence of certain causes of cancer linked to social and economic development.

In colorectal cancer (CRC), cells in the colon and rectum divide uncontrollably, producing a tumour. Globally, CRC is 3rd most common cancer in men and 2nd most in women. Colorectal cancers occur less frequently in India. But the number of cases is alarmingly high.

A CRC patient usually presents with blood in the stool, abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, anorexia, anaemia, and weight loss.

The risk factors are increasing age, lack of dietary fibres and cereals, obesity, smoking and alcoholism, and personal or family history of colorectal cancer.

A high level of physical activity decreases the risk of CRC by up to 50%. A diet high in fibre and low in red and processed meat further helps in reducing the risk.

Colonoscopy is the mainstay of screening and a useful tool in the diagnosis of CRC. Screening is advised to individuals based on a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, a family history of CRC, and hereditary syndromes.

In the early stages, CRC can be cured through surgery alone. Therefore, prevention or early detection is important.

The treatment methods include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy. Personalized targeted therapies have brought about a paradigm shift in treatment outcomes, too.


This article has been written by Dr.Vijith Shetty, Consultant Medical Oncologist, K S Hegde Medical Academy, Mangaluru, Karnataka.