Among cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed in both men and women that includes cancer of the colon and rectum. Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 21 (4.7 percent) for men and 1 in 23 (4.4 percent) for women.
The death rate (the number of deaths per 100,000 people per year) from colorectal cancer, however, has been dropping in both men and women for several decades. One reason is that colorectal polyps are being detected through screening more than ever. Treatment also has improved over the decades.This March, The Medical City (TMC) celebrates the Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, that promotes awareness of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. The Colorectal Unit at TMC aims to be the forefront in Filipinos achieving to beat colorectal cancer.
“Cancer screening can save lives, but not that many are being screened. This strategy has been shown to reduce CRC risk by as high as 70 percent. As an advocate, I believe that now is the time to educate the general public and mobilize the health community to beat colorectal cancer,” according to Dr. Jun R. Ruiz of The Medical City Colorectal Clinic.
Most of colorectal cancer starts with the abnormal growth of polyps. These polyps grow slowly and take around 10 years for some to develop into cancer. Not all polyps progress to cancer. The removal of these polyps reduces the risk of developing cancer. In addition, polyps and early cancer usually do not cause complaints of rectal bleeding, constipation, and abnormal pain that are experienced by the patients in later stages of cancer.
Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors
The factors that increase the risk for cancer in the colon and rectum are people aged 50 and above. With a family history of a first-degree relative with CRC and with pre-existing disease involving long-term inflammation of the colon.
There are also lifestyle factors that likely contribute to the formation of cancer like cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity and a diet that has high saturated fat, low fiber, and high red meat consumption.
Colorectal Cancer Prevention
Living a healthy lifestyle by avoiding smoking, not consuming excessive alcohol, exercising regularly, and eating the right food lowers the risk of having colorectal cancer. In addition to these measures, colorectal SCREENING can also lower the risk of colon and rectum cancer.
Regular screening, beginning at age 50, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer. In most countries, it recommends that adults age 50 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer, and that adults age 76 to 85 ask their doctor if they should be screened. But if you are at higher risk, you may need to be tested earlier than 50, or more often than other people.The gold standard for CRC screening is a colonoscopy as it detects and removes early lesions like polyps. In this test, the doctor uses a colonoscope (a flexible lighted tube with a lens for viewing and a tool for removing tissue) to look at the rectum and entire colon. Air (or carbon dioxide) is pumped into the colon to expand it so the doctor can see the colon lining more clearly.
During the colonoscopy, any abnormal growths in the colon and the rectum can be removed. The colon needs to be completely cleared out so the doctor can get the best look at it.
Some patients may not want to have a colonoscopy because they find the cost is expensive. One alternative is a stool test called Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT). FIT detects only human blood and is specific for bleeding in the colon. Persons who have positive FIT are 12 to 40 times likely to harbor cancer than those with a negative test. The test is repeated every year if the initial test is negative but if it is positive, a colonoscopy is still needed to rule out the presence of cancer.
At the end of the day, a shared-decision between patient and his doctor is very crucial by undergoing either method of CRC screening, to able to beat colorectal cancer.
For more information on Colorectal Screening visit Colorectal Clinic at TMC. Check website www.medicalcity.com or Follow their Facebook at www.facebook.com/themedicalcity.