Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, begins in the colon and rectum of the body, which are the largest parts of the digestive tract. Even though this type of cancer usually occurs in older adults, it can affect anyone of any age. Dr Shankar Zanwar, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central says that cases of colon cancer are increasing in India.
Dr Zanwar cited a study comparing the total number of colon cancer cases in Mumbai for 32 years (1941 to 1972) to cases reported in 2006. They found that 555 cases were reported during those 32 years whereas 560 cases were registered in the year 2006 alone. “Multiple factors could be attached to it like rising awareness, increase in population with ageing, changing lifestyle and advanced techniques of detection,” he explained.
Be On The Lookout To Reduce Colon Cancer Risk
Citing another study, the gastroenterologist says that the average age at which people develop colon cancer is 47.2 years. “The same study found Indian patients are younger than their western counterparts and present at more advanced stages,” he added. There are multiple factors that attribute to the increasing number of colon cancer cases in the country.
Some of the common symptoms according to the doctor include:
- Diarrhoea in rare cases
- Blood in stool
- Abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight loss, and
- Loss of appetite
Prevention Tips To Reduce The Risk Of Developing Colorectal Cancer
Here are some ways you can alleviate the risk of colon cancer:
Lifestyle changes are important
Dr Zanwar’s first advice is to maintain a healthy weight. It goes without saying that being overweight or obese can elevate your risk of developing several diseases, including colon cancer. To prevent the risk, he advises people to “avoid living a sedentary lifestyle, refraining from alcohol and smoking, eating a diet rich in fibre, fruits and vegetables.”
Go for regular screening
Dr Shankar suggests getting a screening done to avoid the risk of colon cancer, especially if the problem runs in your family or your blood relatives suffer from any cancer. “The good age to start screening is 45 years. A simple and low-cost screening test is doing a stool test for colon cancer,” he says.
Go for colonoscopy if you have a family history of colon cancer
The expert explains, “When the family history for cancers is strong – one is advised to get a colonoscopy done. Colonoscopy is a test where an endoscope, which is a tube with a camera, is inserted in your colon to see for cancer directly. This technique not only can visualize the presence of cancer and take samples to confirm it under a microscope but also it enables a gastroenterologist to remove polyps which is the early stage of cancer. When a polyp or the smallest form of cancer is seen, a gastroenterologist can remove using specialized devices within the same sitting and the patient does not even need to get admitted for this and can go home just after a few hours. Colonoscopy and polyp removal can reduce the risk of developing cancer death to less than 65%,” he concludes.
Dr Shankar Zanwar,
Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central