According to the Spanish Foundation for the Digestive System (FEAD), colon cancer it is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Spain. In our country there are about 90,000 people diagnosed and it is the cause of 11,215 annual deaths.
Its about second most common cancer among women and men, after breast and prostate cancer respectively.
The good news is that this type of cancer can be cured in 90% of cases if detected early. For this reason and on the occasion of World Colon Cancer Day, which is celebrated on March 31, the digestive system specialists they want to remember some essential elements of prevention of this type of tumors.
What is colon cancer?
It is one of the most frequent cancers, which begins in the large intestine and affects the final part of the digestive tract, which is the colon.
It usually affects people over 50 years of age, although it can manifest at any age. AND most commonly, it starts with small groups of non-cancerous cells called polyps, which in some cases end up leading to cancer.
Polyps can be completely asymptomatic, hence the need for screening tests that can identify and remove them before they turn into cancer.
Colon cancer sometimes called colorectal cancer, which is a term that combines colon cancer and rectal cancer, which begins in the rectum.
The main risk factors that can predispose to developing a tumor in the colon are:
• The age: the chances of suffering from this cancer increase after the age of 50.
• The family background of colorectal cancer. The risk increases when the cancer patient is young or when they have relatives who have suffered from this disease.
• Having suffered from certain types of tumor or other digestive diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
• Hereditary syndromes specials.
Prevent colon cancer
According to FEAD, dietary habits and a healthy lifestyle are important to help prevent colorectal cancer. So it is worth reviewing some basic principles for the prevention of colon cancer.
• Reduce fat as much as possible in our diet.
• Consume fruits and vegetables daily, as well as whole grains, which contain vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and minerals.
• The foods rich in calcium and vitamin D they must be present in our diet.
• It is necessary avoid being overweight. And if we already have it, we must make a plan with our doctor to lose weight.
• No tobacco and better not to drink, or to drink very little alcohol.
• Practice physical exercise regularly. The ideal would be to do 30 minutes every or almost every day. Calmly and at the rhythm of each one. `but at least walking is highly recommended and very beneficial.
What is screening, and how is it done?
In addition to the prevention measures already seen, the Colon cancer screening tests are an essential tool when it comes to detecting disease in early stages.
Thus, “the active prevention of colon cancer through screening programs should be part of the health habits of the population. Following the screening programs and going to the doctor at the slightest suspicion is essential to achieve an early detection of colon cancer, since in these circumstances it can be cured in 90% of cases, achieving a reduction in mortality and incidence » explains Dr. Mileidis San Juan Acosta, member of FEAD.
Actually there are several screening tests to detect premalignant lesions or cancer colorectal that has not yet manifested. The most practiced are the detection of occult blood in the stool and the colonoscopy.
The test for the detection of occult blood in feces It consists of collecting a stool sample, in order to analyze them and determine if there is blood in it.
If the result is negative, it indicates that it is very unlikely that you have colon cancer, although it is not 100% accurate. Therefore, it is recommended to repeat the test annually and consult your doctor if discomfort appears.
In the case of a positive result, all it means is that traces of blood have been detected, because the origin can be varied and not always a tumor. But as a precaution, the immediate response of the doctor will be to perform a colonoscopy on the patient to confirm the origin of that blood.
Colonoscopy is a procedure that explores the inside of the colon and rectum through a flexible endoscope that is inserted through the anus. The patient is sedated so that the procedure is not bothersome and can go home once the effects of the anesthesia have worn off.
When should I get screened?
Should we all be screened, even if we have no family history? And when should we do it?
Well digestive specialists point out differences depending on whether we have a family history or not, and according to age.
Persons no family history:
• If there are no cases of colon cancer in the family and you are less than 50 years old, it is recommended to follow healthy lifestyle habits (diet, not tobacco, regular physical activity).
• From 50, the Spanish Foundation for the Digestive System recommends participating in the screening programs that are underway in the autonomous community where we live.
Persons with a family history:
• If there is only one second-degree relative (grandfather, uncle) and the person is 50 years or older, it is advisable to participate in the screening programs of each community based on the fecal occult blood test. In the event that the test is positive, a colonoscopy is performed.
• If there are two first-degree relatives (father, brother, son) or a first-degree relative under 50 years of age, it is recommended to consult with the doctor and generally advance the start of screening to 40 years, or 10 years before the age of the youngest family member with cancer. And from there, do a colonoscopy every 5 years.
People diagnosed with adenomas, inflammatory bowel diseases.
In these cases, the specialist will determine the type of tests to be carried out and the periodicity of follow-up.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.