Diagnosed in both men and women, colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer worldwide, with an estimated 1·8 million new cases recorded in 2018. According to Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), this is the second most common cancer and the second highest cause of cancer deaths in the UAE.
Colorectal cancer, in most cases, starts with benign tumors or polyps which is abnormal growth of tissues on the lining of rectum and colon. Over time, some polyps change to become cancerous. Screening is the process of looking for cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease. In CRC screening, it means looking for adenoma polyps, before they produce symptoms or become cancerous and can be removed. There is 5 % lifetime risk of colorectal cancer in average risk individuals, and 90 % survival rate when detected early.
What are the Common Symptoms
Early colorectal cancer often has no symptoms, which is why screening is so important. As a tumor grows, it may bleed or obstruct the colon. Patients should see a doctor if they have any of the symptoms, such as abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, rectal mass, sudden loss of weight and anemia
What are the Risk Factors for Colon Cancer
Many lifestyle issues are among the critical risk factors for colorectal cancer. Lack of regular physical activity, a diet low in fruits and vegetables, low fiber and high fat diet or a diet high in processed meat may increase your chances of getting colorectal cancer. If you are overweight or obese, your risk of developing cancer becomes higher. Excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco raises the risk of colon and rectal cancer significantly,”
Who should be Screened
- Emirati man and woman over the age of 40 years
- Asymptomatic man and woman over the age of 45-50 years
Colonoscopy remains the gold standard for colon cancer screening. If it is not available, other options are stool occult blood test or CT colonography
Recommendations to Reduce Risk of Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is not entirely preventable. But you can reduce your risk by getting yourself routinely checked, starting from the age 40. Daily moderate physical activity and eating a balanced diet with fruit and vegetables, whole grains and foods containing fiber reduce risk of the disease.
The best way to beat any cancer is by regular screening tests and early detection. If you are 40 years and older, book an appointment with a Gastroenterologist in Thumbay University Hospital, Ajman or any other hospital, whichever is convenient for you