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Dr. Amitabh Ray

Colorectal cancer is an emerging problem in India and is among the five most common cancers diagnosed in the country.

Although common in people beyond the ages of 50, more and more young patients are being diagnosed with this disease, possibly due to changing lifestyles and food habits. Being a disease of the developed world, a large number of trials and studies have been devoted to colorectal cancer over the last few decades across major cancer centres in Europe and North America.

As a result, a large number of options exist in the management of every stage of colorectal cancer. Even for very advanced stages of colorectal cancer, multiple treatment options far outstrip the options available for most other cancers.

In this context, colorectal cancers are among the few malignancies where surgery is sometimes feasible and beneficial even in stage 4. Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR) and RFA are also useful options for local treatment beyond surgery for a subset of stage-4 colorectal cancers.

Chemotherapy has improved with time. And, today, combinations of oral and injectable chemotherapy treatments are efficacious and among the least toxic regimens available for the treatment of colorectal cancer.

Targeted therapies have offered an additional option for advanced stages of colorectal cancer and along with immunotherapy, represent the newest horizon in treatment of cancer in general and stage-4 colorectal cancers in particular.

Due to the large number of effective therapies, colorectal cancer is thought of as a solvable problem by the oncology community. Curing cancer, especially in stage 4, is a dream for every patient and his/her oncologist, and this is one cancer which gives them an opportunity to realise this dream. It makes us feel that we can win the war against cancer. It makes us believe that it’s never too late.

This article has been written by Dr. Amitabh Ray, MBBS MD DNB ECMO Consultant Oncologist, HCG EKO Cancer Center, Kolkata.