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Introduction:

 

Colorectal Cancer Month, observed annually in March, serves as a critical period for raising awareness about colorectal cancer, promoting prevention strategies, and emphasizing the importance of early detection through screening.

This guide aims to delve into the significance of Colorectal Cancer Month, explore risk factors associated with the disease, discuss screening options, highlight advocacy efforts, and provide actionable steps for individuals to take charge of their colorectal health.

 

Understanding Colorectal Cancer:

 

 

Colorectal cancer, which affects the colon or rectum, is one of the most common cancers diagnosed globally.

It typically originates from precancerous polyps that develop on the inner lining of the colon or rectum and gradually progress to cancerous growths.

While the exact cause of colorectal cancer remains unclear, several risk factors contribute to its development, including age, family history of colorectal cancer, personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, genetic predisposition, unhealthy lifestyle habits, and dietary factors.

 

risk_factors_colorectal_Cancer

 

Risk Factors Associated with Colorectal Cancer:

Various risk factors increase an individual’s likelihood of developing colorectal cancer. Advancing age is a significant risk factor, with the majority of cases diagnosed in individuals over the age of 50.

A family history of colorectal cancer or certain hereditary conditions, such as Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), can significantly elevate the risk.

Additionally, lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, lack of physical activity, and diets high in red and processed meats and low in fiber-rich foods increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

 

Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer:

Colorectal cancer can be diagnosed through various methods, which may include:

  1. Screening Tests: Screening tests are instrumental in detecting colorectal cancer in its early stages or identifying precancerous polyps before they develop into cancer. Common screening tests include:

Colonoscopy: A procedure in which a flexible, lighted tube with a camera is inserted into the rectum to examine the entire colon and rectum for abnormalities, such as polyps or cancerous growths.

– Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) and Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT): These tests detect hidden blood in the stool, which can be a sign of colorectal cancer or precancerous polyps. They are non-invasive and can be performed at home by collecting stool samples.

– Stool DNA Test: This test analyzes stool samples for specific DNA markers associated with colorectal cancer or precancerous polyps.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: Similar to a colonoscopy, but it examines only the lower part of the colon and rectum.

 

  1. Diagnostic Procedures: If a screening test suggests the presence of colorectal cancer or if an individual experiences symptom suggestive of colorectal cancer, further diagnostic procedures may be necessary. These procedures may include:

– Colonoscopy: While colonoscopy is primarily a screening tool, it can also be used for diagnostic purposes to biopsy suspicious areas or remove polyps for examination under a microscope.

– Biopsy: During a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, a small tissue sample (biopsy) may be taken from any suspicious areas for laboratory analysis to confirm the presence of cancerous cells.

– Imaging Tests: Imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) scans may be performed to evaluate the extent of cancer spread (staging) and identify any metastases.

 

  1. Symptom Evaluation: Individuals experiencing symptoms associated with colorectal cancer, such as rectal bleeding, changes in bowel habits (such as diarrhea or constipation), abdominal pain or cramping, unintended weight loss, or fatigue, should promptly consult a healthcare professional.A thorough medical history, physical examination, and additional diagnostic tests may be conducted to evaluate the cause of these symptoms and determine if further investigation for colorectal cancer is warranted.

Early detection of colorectal cancer through screening and diagnostic procedures is critical for improving treatment outcomes and reducing mortality rates associated with the disease.

Individuals should discuss their colorectal cancer screening options and risk factors with their healthcare providers to develop a personalized screening plan based on their age, family history, and overall health status.

 

Importance of Screening for Colorectal Cancer:

 

Early detection through screening plays a crucial role in reducing the incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer. Screening tests can detect precancerous polyps or early-stage cancer when treatment is most effective.

Several screening modalities are available, including colonoscopy, fecal occult blood tests (FOBT), fecal immunochemical tests (FIT), stool DNA tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography).

The American Cancer Society recommends regular screening for individuals at average risk beginning at age 45, with earlier initiation and more frequent screening for those with higher risk factors.

colorectal_cancer_colonoscopy

Promoting Awareness and Education:

 

Colorectal Cancerpolyps Month serves as a platform for raising awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer screening, risk factors, symptoms, and available resources.

Educational campaigns, community events, social media initiatives, and media outreach efforts are instrumental in disseminating information and encouraging individuals to prioritize their colorectal health.

Advocacy organizations, healthcare providers, and individuals affected by colorectal cancer play pivotal roles in promoting awareness and advocating for policies that support prevention, screening, and access to care.

colorectal_cancer_lifestyle_changes

Lifestyle Modifications for Prevention:

 

While some risk factors for colorectal cancer, such as age and family history, are non-modifiable, adopting a healthy lifestyle can help mitigate the risk of developing the disease.

Dietary changes, such as consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins while limiting red and processed meats, are recommended.

Regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco use, moderating alcohol consumption, and managing chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension contribute to overall colorectal health.

 

Advocacy Efforts and Support Networks:

 

Colorectal Cancer Month provides an opportunity for advocacy organizations, healthcare professionals, survivors, caregivers, and individuals affected by colorectal cancer to come together and amplify their voices.

Advocacy efforts focus on raising funds for research, supporting patient assistance programs, and advocating for policy changes that prioritize colorectal cancer prevention, screening, and treatment.

Additionally, support networks and resources are available to provide emotional, practical, and financial support to individuals and families affected by colorectal cancer.

 

Conclusion: Nourishing Your Gut for a Healthier You

 

Colorectal Cancer Month serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of prioritizing colorectal health and taking proactive steps to prevent and detect colorectal cancer early.

By raising awareness, promoting screening initiatives, advocating for policy changes, and supporting research efforts, individuals and communities can make a tangible impact in the fight against colorectal cancer.

Together, we can strive towards a future where colorectal cancer is a preventable and treatable disease, ultimately saving lives and improving outcomes for those affected by the condition.

 

colorectal_cancer_month_infographic

Get In Contact with The Expert – Dr. Deetlefs


Dr Deetlefs has admitting rights and performs endoscopies at both Mediclinic Milnerton and Life Vincent Pallotti Hospitals.

Services include consultations for gastrointestinal and liver related diseases with a specific interest in inflammatory bowel disease and iron deficiency anemia caused by obscure gastrointestinal bleeding.

He furthermore performs numerous more specialised procedures such as capsule endoscopy, double balloon enteroscopy, ERCP and various interventional procedures including polypectomies for large polyps, haemostasis of bleeding lesions, ablation of Barrett’s oesophagus and placement of feeding tubes (PEG).


Gi Doc Capetown is a practice founded to provide medical solutions in the area of gastroenterology.

Over the years, Dr Eduan Deetlefs has earned the reputation of a trusted health expert providing consultative, diagnostic, and therapeutic endoscopic and related services to patients in
Cape Town and beyond.

If you would like to book an appointment with a gastrointestinal (GI) specialist or would simply like more information on a particular GI topic, don’t hesitate to use our online booking form or call Dr. Deetlefs at 021 551 867.

 

DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.

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Our website information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained physician can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.