Young and middle aged adults are suffering from colon and rectal cancer, according to researchers who have evaluated data for over a decade. The findings show those who have a family history of any type of cancer are at a 10 times higher risk to get colon cancer. It has been found that the risk of colon cancer increases in those who have a family history of gynecological cancers like breast, ovarian or endometrial cancer. Those who have a family history of colon problems, be it their parents, siblings or first cousins, are also at a higher risk of this cancer. Unfortunately, in India, a lot of colon cancer cases are wrongly identified as piles and surgical treatments are offered. This delays the diagnosis in at least 80 per cent of the cases.
Experts state there is an increase in colon problems. This magnifies the risk of cancer, making it important to look after your colon health and not brush aside the signs and symptoms that your poop gives from time to time.
Dr Shishir Shetty, surgical oncologist, explains why colorectal cancers are seeing an increase in India.
Why is early colon cancer screening being recommended in India?
Colorectal cancer is one of the slowest growing of cancers. The major challenge is in detecting this cancer as it doesn’t show major symptoms in the initial stages. Colorectal cancer can be completely cured, if detected early.
Is colon cancer hereditary? Is that scientifically proven?
About 10 per cent of colorectal cancers are caused by a heritable mutation — a genetic change that can be passed on from parent to child. The two major subtypes of hereditary colon cancer are called familial adenomatous polyposis and Lynch Syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. Some rare conditions — including attenuated familial adenomatous polyposis and MUTYH-associated polyposis — have been associated with an inherited risk for colorectal cancer.
According to a March, 2017 study from American Cancer Society, the rate of colon and rectal cancer is increasing in the young and middle aged? What are the reasons for this increase?
There is a growing evidence of increase in colorectal cancer in younger and middle aged patients. The risk factors include obesity, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, increased consumption of red meat, smoking and alcohol consumption.
Colon cancer is caused due to lack of diverse bacteria in the gut. Does this mean that traditional foods will help to maintain a good colon?
One can lower the risk of colorectal cancer by eating lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and consuming less red meat.
How can colon health be checked by a normal person at home? What are the simple signs for the same?
The common symptoms are change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days, rectal bleeding, dark stool or blood in stool, weakness, fatigue and weight loss.
Why is colon cancer being wrongly understood as piles in India?
In rectal cancer, the common complaint is bleeding. Unfortunately in our country, there are lots of uncontrolled and unregulated illegal piles clinics spread all over. Many of them are unable to differentiate between piles and cancer. They continue to provide symptomatic/surgical treatment for piles without detecting the cancer.
At what stages are colon cancer patients coming to hospitals? What are the numbers according to the cancer registries in India?
At present we see patients mostly in stage 3. There is a need to create a lot of awareness on colon cancer. With increased awareness and education, people will undergo regular colon screening. This helps in the early diagnosis of cancer, leading to better clinical outcome and quality of life.
What are the foods people must be cautious of?
It is advisable to avoid junk food and every type of processed food. Also reduce the intake of red meat and alcohol.
- There is a growing evidence of increase in colorectal cancer in younger and middle aged patients
- The risk factors include obesity, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, increased consumption of red meat, smoking and alcohol consumption
- Common symptoms of colon cancer are change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation or narrowing of the stool that lasts for more than a few days, rectal bleeding, dark stool or blood in stool, weakness, fatigue and weight loss