Colorectal cancer primarily affects people aged between 63-77 years of age. It is not uncommon however for patients to be younger than 60. Younger patients are under a greater risk when they have bad eating habits. These include excessive consumption of red meat and the associated undesired heat treatment of meat (barbecues, frying), excessive caloric intake, lack of fiber in the diet and other such factors. A lack of physical activity often associated with obesity is also known to be a major risk factor.
Symptoms of cancer can include other diseases of the digestive tract
The main risk factor of this disease is the age of the patient. With increasing age, all people develop a higher risk of forming polyps (mucosal growths). In time, these formations can transform into malignant growths and the cells can begin to grow uncontrollably. This occurrence is a relatively long process lasting anywhere from 7 to 10 years. In about 15-19 percent, tumor growth is linked to congenital predisposition. One percent of cases occur directly as a result of chronic intestinal inflammation.
The various forms of colorectal cancer are usually completely asymptomatic and can usually be detected as a result of anemia laboratory sampling. Symptoms indicative of colon cancer often include other diseases affecting the digestive tract.
It is essential to pay attention to the following warning signs:
- A change in the bowel movements (regular alternations in diarrhea and constipation, narrowed stool, the urge to defecate and the feeling of incomplete defecation)
- Presence of blood in stool
- Stomach pain
- Unexplained reduction in body of bodyweight
What are options for treating colon cancer?
As has been mentioned earlier, the primary success factor is early detection. In such a case, colorectal cancer is very well treatable. Current, high-level treatment is managed by a clinical oncologist and the treatment plan and strategy is determined based on the stage of the disease. Depending on the tumor stages, treatment is always “tailor-made” for each individual patient.
In its earliest phase, a malignant tumor can be removed with a relatively simple procedure involving an endoscope. In other cases, patients undergo a surgical procedure with the aim of removing all tumor tissue as well as lymph nodes. Yet another way involves curative chemotherapy and radiation which aims to ensure tumor reduction and elimination of the residual affected tissue. Furtunately, it is now also possible to treat the disease in its advanced stages including metastases.
An important aspect in the treatment is that the patient is sufficiently informed about his/her illness, about the available methods of treatment and also about the side-effects of the treatment methods required. A positive and active approach to the treatment is a major factor in success.
Prevention is the key
How can we prevent colon cancer? The key, much like with any other serious disease, is in its prevention. In this case, this involves modifications in the lifestyle and then accompanying diet. It is very important to remove any of the risk factors mentioned above.
In terms of secondary prevention, healthy and asymptomatic individuals with an increased risk of developing the disease (colorectal cancer cases in family) are involved. It has been fifteen years already since screening to detect cases of colorectal cancer has begun, leading to a decrease in new cases. As of 2015, due to changes in the screening program, health insurance companies invite patients over 50 years of age to undergo examinations. The actual test itself involves stool examination to detect the presence of blood and is entirely painless. If you are over the age of 55 and have not yet undergone an examination, we strongly urge to you to do so as soon as possible. An active approach to prevent the disease can save your life and health.