Colon Cancer – What do you not know?
Myths and Realities of Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide. It has been thought to be less common in Asia compared to Western countries. However, the incidence rates of Colorectal Cancer in Asia are high and there is an increasing trend in the Asian population. (Deng Y., 2017)
Yet, there are many myths surrounding colon cancer. Here are some common ones which needs dispelling.MYTH:
There is nothing I can do about getting colorectal cancer.REALITY:
Few people know that colorectal cancer may be preventable. A low-trans-fat diet, high in vegetables, and incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle may reduce your risk of developing the disease. Healthy lifestyle including cessation of smoking and alcohol consumption will reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
Since most colorectal cancer develops from non-cancerous polyps - growths on the lining of the colon and rectum - screening methods can detect and remove polyps BEFORE they become cancerous.MYTH:
Colorectal cancer is deadly.REALITY:
Colorectal cancer is curable when detected early. 91% of patients with localised colorectal cancer (confined to the colon or rectum) are alive five years after diagnosis. However, only 37%of all colorectal cancers are diagnosed at this stage. The remaining patients come to the doctor too late.MYTH:
Screening is only necessary for those who have symptoms.REALITY:
Since early colorectal cancer often has no specific symptoms, it is important to get screened regularly. Men and women who are 50 or older should get screened regularly for colorectal cancer. Men and women who are at high risk because they have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, might need to be screened earlier. In addition, women who have a personal or family history of ovarian, endometrial or breast cancer may need to be screened before age 50. Talk to your gastroenterologist to get more information.MYTH:
Colonoscopy is difficult to undergo.REALITY:
Although there are slight risks involved, the colonoscopy procedure is usually not painful. Patient normally don't feel a thing during the procedure because patients are sedated during the procedure to minimise any discomfort, which is mostly from the gas inserted to visualise the inside of the colon. In some patients, it can be done without sedation.
The preparation itself of eliminating all your stool on your colon the day before, may be the most uncomfortable part of the procedure for some people. This preparation is extremely important as it allows your doctor to see the lining of the intestine clearly. An inadequate preparation can lead to something being missed or a need to repeat the procedure.MYTH:
Having a polyp means I have cancer and need surgery.REALITY:
A polyp is a pre-cancerous lesion that may advance to become colon cancer. If these polyps are detected and removed before this progression, colon cancer can be prevented. This is how colonoscopy prevent deaths from colon cancer – a fact that has been well demonstrated in countries that that offer colon cancer screening in their population.
Most benign polyps are completely treated by removal during the colonoscopy. Even large ones can be removed endoscopically by a specialist or by simple laparoscopic surgery.
If cancer is found within the polyp, you may need surgery to remove that part of the colon. Even if you need surgery, many procedures today can be performed using minimally invasive approaches, which reduces recovery time, pain, and have many other benefits. Ask your colorectal surgeon today about which approach is most suitable for you.