Colorectal cancer is one of the most common malignancies in both women and men. Every year, it is detected in almost 2 million people in the world, including about 25,000. Poles. Almost half of Polish patients die within five years of diagnosis, which places him in second place (after lung cancer) among the most deadly cancers.
- Lifestyle and colorectal cancer
60% cases of colorectal cancer affect people living in developed countries. Lifestyle influences its development to a large extent. Too often, we give up eating fruit and vegetables, lack traffic, smoke cigarettes, and abuse alcohol. Over 70% are responsible for such a lifestyle. for diagnosed cases of colorectal cancer.
The right diet
Eating fast food or snacks such as chips, fries, sweets does not have a positive effect on our health, and especially increases the risk of colorectal cancer.
In addition, to avoid getting sick, you should give up eating red meat frequently. Animal and trans fats are also not recommended. Just like frequent drinking. It is due to the consumption of these products that the contact time of carcinogenic molecules resulting from metabolism with the intestinal mucosa is longer. As a result, it is easier for them to penetrate the structure of the entire organ.
Let’s eat as much vegetables and fruits as possible, which are high in fiber to improve bowel function. Let’s also ensure that our diet is properly balanced. If we allow vitamin and mineral deficiencies, the risk of developing colorectal cancer will be greater.
Lack of movement is another factor increasing the risk of illness. The proper diet, which we wrote about above, should be closely combined with systematic activity. Even small changes in this area can prevent colorectal cancer! Already 30 minutes of any physical activity 3 times a week will increase our chances of reducing the risk of developing cancer. Awareness of this is the first step to changing your lifestyle from sitting to active.
Too little movement or not taking it at all leads to obesity, which puts a heavy burden on the whole body. It can result in diabetes, cardiological diseases, as well as the development of malignant tumors such as colon cancer.
Regular preventive examinations
In the case of cancers at the initial stage of the disease, the patient usually does not feel any symptoms. They usually appear when the cancer is in advanced stages and it is sometimes too late for effective treatment.
Tumors most often arise from adenomas, or polyps, that appear in the large intestine. Early detection allows their removal without negative consequences. That is why preventive examinations, e.g. colonoscopy, are so important. This test only lasts 20 minutes and can save lives.
Everyone who is over 50 years old is entitled to a free colonoscopy. Genetically burdened patients can be tested free of charge after the age of 40. It is worth taking advantage of this opportunity. During colonoscopy, the doctor not only checks for abnormalities in the large intestine, but can immediately take change samples for examination or remove any polyps that have appeared. If the examination shows no abnormalities and the patient is not genetically burdened, they are performed every 10 years. However, further action always depends on the results of the colonoscopy and the predisposition of the examined person.
Let us remember that not every detected change or tumor is cancer. Cancer, i.e. a malignant tumor, develops from epidermal or epithelial cells that “rebel” and diametrically change the way they work in the body. Finding a tumor in the large intestine does not immediately mean cancer. Early detection and removal will avoid the possibility of its transformation into a malignant form and thus prevent the development of a potential disease.
Let’s remember to take care of diet, exercise and preventive examinations, and we will certainly be calmer and healthier.
- Treatment of colorectal cancer
If disturbing symptoms appear, we cannot delay visiting a primary care physician who will probably refer us to an oncologist. The symptoms that should draw our attention and mobilize to action include:
a. latent bleeding (seen after a test for fecal occult blood),
b. stomach ache,
c. overt bleeding, i.e. when we can observe blood with the naked eye on the stool,
d. diarrhea alternating with constipation,
e. painful pressure on the stool,
f. sudden, inexplicable weight loss,
h. feeling of incomplete bowel movement.
If diagnostic tests show the presence of cancer cells, it is necessary to immediately start treatment with a specialist oncologist.
- Treatment planning begins with an assessment of the severity of the disease, usually based on computed tomography. If there is no metastasis, treatment begins with surgery, which involves removing a portion of the intestine with the tumor and surrounding lymph nodes. Often after the procedure, the doctor decides to use complementary chemotherapy, which is used for the next 6 months. When the disease is locally advanced or metastases are found, treatment usually involves chemotherapy in combination with new targeted drugs. In some situations, surgery is performed to remove the tumor of the intestine and metastatic foci – says Dr. Małgorzata Kuc-Rajca, a clinical oncologist at the Oncology Center in Warsaw.
In case of illness, it is very important not to be alone alone, except for the necessary treatment. You should have a loved one with you, ask for help from a psycho-oncologist or look for a support group who will accompany us during this difficult time.
- Facts and myths about colorectal cancer
MYTH. The disease affects only the elderly – colorectal cancer most often occurs in the elderly. However, even younger people can get sick.
FACT. Colorectal cancer may not have any symptoms for up to 12 years – when the first symptoms of the disease appear, most often we have already developed cancer. That is why from the age of 50 a colonoscopy should be performed every 10 years.
MYTH. Colorectal cancer occurs mainly in people who have had cases of this disease in the family – much more often the cause of this cancer is the wrong lifestyle.
FACT. During a colonoscopy, your doctor may cut out polyps or adenomas – the colonoscopy gives you the opportunity to check for any changes in your intestines, and to remove those that have already appeared but haven’t yet developed into a tumor.
MYTH. A colonoscopy is painful – it may not be pleasant, but it doesn’t hurt. On request, the patient may be given anesthesia.
Let us remember that the risk of developing colorectal cancer largely depends on ourselves. Conducting a healthy lifestyle and performing preventive examinations gives us a great opportunity not only to quickly detect any changes, but also to completely prevent them.