Colon cancer and the importance of early detection

28 Mar, 2022

Colon cancer affects the latter part of the gastrointestinal tract and is undoubtedly one of the most prevalent cancers worldwide. It is one of the leading causes of mortality globally, with an incidence of more than 9% compared to other cancers. It is also one of the most common types of cancer among men and women globally and the third most common type among females in Saudi Arabia. Cancerous cells can spread in the colon undetected for years before showing symptoms, so the earlier the diagnosis, the greater the chances of treatment.

Colorectal cancer agents:

  • High consumption of red meat
  • Small or insufficient amounts of fibre
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity
  • Genetic factor


The 10 most important symptoms:

  • The appearance of blood in feces
  • Change in the consistency of stool (thin thread)
  • Pain, colic, bloating, and unusual abdominal gases
  • Nausea and occasional refluxes
  • Diarrhea or constipation and discomfort, with persistent colon gases and bowel movement
  • Chronic constipation, especially in older adults
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Acute anemia (shown in advanced cases of disease)
  • Constant fatigue and debilitation
  • The appearance of psoriasis in the colon during anal examination, or the appearance of a tumor in the lower colon during clinical examination or endoscopy.


Risk factors for colon cancer:

  • First-degree relatives (genetic factor: fathers, sons, brothers)
  • Adults over 50
  • Persons with one of the symptoms mentioned above
  • Cancer survivors
  • People with chronic colon ulceration or Crohn's disease


Diagnosis:

First: The doctor will do an enzymatic faecal analysis called "Occult Blood in Stool".
Second: A colonoscopy is performed (exploratory +/- therapeutic): a safe procedure to detect colon cancer at early stages.
Third: Colon CT to replace endoscopy.

Prevention:

  • Do annual faecal blood analysis
  • Annual faecal analysis
  • Annual immunochemical faecal analysis
It is recommended to increase vegetables and fruits intake and to take calcium, aspirin, selenium, and folic acid supplements, as instructed by your doctor.

Medical advice for the prevention of colon cancer:

  • Reduce intake of red meat, fat, and cholesterol, and consume more green fibres and fruits daily
  • Drink enough water
  • Refrain from smoking
  • Take antioxidants and maintain an average level of vitamin D and calcium
  • Exercise daily for at least 45 minutes, five days a week
  • Maintain average weight and avoid obesity. Recent studies have confirmed that increasing fat in the abdominal and waist regions contributes to a higher risk of colon cancer.
  • Periodic medical check-ups as well as tests and colonoscopy to detect the disease at an early stage, especially for those with ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, or people with a family history of colon cancer
  • Comprehensive medical examinations of all family members with a medical record