National Cancer Institute of Canada
TORONTO, CANADA (Global Saskatoon) - The National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) says colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer and the second most common cause of death from cancer, for both Canadian men and women.
Colon, or bowel cancer, is one of the most preventable forms of cancer. If caught early, over 90 per cent of cases could, and should, result in a full recovery.
According to the Colon Cancer Canada, colon cancer is the second leading cause of both male and female cancer-related deaths in Canada. In 2011, over 22,200 Canadians were diagnosed with colon cancer. What is even more startling is the fact that almost half of those diagnosed die from the disease. This is because nearly half of those diagnosed found out too late.
Colorectal cancer numbers:
-423 Canadians, on average are diagnosed with CRC every week
-175 Canadians, on average, die of this disease every week.
-1 in 14 men is expected to develop CRC during his lifetime and 1 in 27 will die from it.
-1 in 15 women is expected to develop CRC during her lifetime and 1 in 31 will die from it.
On a daily average, 61 Canadians are diagnosed with CRC and 24 die from the disease.
Majority of CRC’s begin as benign growth in the lining of the colon called adenomatous polyps. Timely removal of these growths (easily done during a colonoscopy) will prevent CRC from spreading.
Signs and symptoms:
-Change in bowel movements (diarrhea, constipation for no apparent reason)
-Blood in stool
-Anemia (decreased number of red blood cells)
-Abdominal discomfort (cramps)
-General stomach discomfort (bloating, fullness and/or cramps)
-Frequent gas pains
-Weight loss for no apparent reason
-A strong and continuing need to move bowels, but with little stool
-Feeling that the bowel is not emptying completely
-Stools that are narrower than usual
-Feelings of weakness or feeling more tired than normal
These signs and symptoms are the most common signs of CRC, but it is important to note that the symptoms are not unique to CRC – check with your doctor if you suspect a problem.
Many people diagnosed with CRC never had any symptoms or early warning signs.
Advanced CRC in patients in their 40s is not uncommon and has even been seen with patients in their 20s. If concerned, get screened.
Preparation for a colonoscopy:
Before a colonoscopy all special medical conditions should be disclosed to a doctor including pregnancy, lung conditions, heart conditions, allergies and any medications.
Some diet and fluid dietary restrictions may occur beforehand. This usually involves eliminating solid foods for one day to a week in order for all solids to vacate the gastrointestinal tract.
Common bowel preparation involves a clear liquid diet consisting of water, fat-free bouillon or broth, strained fruit juice, plain coffee, plain tea, sports drinks or gelatine (JELL-O that is not red, blue or purple coloured.
No dairy (even coffee creamer)
No beverages with red, blue or purple dyes.
No nuts, seeds, hulls, skins or insoluble fibre the day before
Laxatives and enemas may also be required before the procedure.
To combat high-volume diarrhea, the Harvard Medical School recommends medicated flushable wipes (with aloe and vitamin E), moisturizer (petroleum jelly) and avoiding plain dry toilet paper. Toilet paper moistened with cold (not warm) water can help.
The ‘dreaded’ colonoscopy: Remember medical professionals are there to assure patients are as comfortable as possible.
Colonoscopy is a procedure that screens for colon cancer. In many cases, colonoscopies allow accurate diagnosis and treatment without the need for a major operation. Recovery is very quick and usually pain-free.
After sedation, a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera (0.5” in diameter) known as an endoscope or colonoscope is inserted into the anus. It is guided through the large intestine to look for abnormalities in the colon and rectum.
Patients lay on their left side and may be asked to readjust during the procedure.
The endoscope blows air into the colon, which expands the colon, allowing for better vision. When air is introduced into the colon, some patients may experience uncomfortable abdominal cramping or ‘gas pains.’
Once fully inserted into the large intestine the colonoscope is withdrawn slowly and if the doctor sees an abnormality, it can be removed for analysis at that time.
Polyp removal is usually done during a colonoscopy and the patient is sedated during the procedure. While polyps are actually quite common and usually harmless, removing them is an effective way to prevent cancer spreading throughout the body.
The colonoscope has snipping and retrieving tools and once polyps are removed they are examined for cancer.
Luckily, polyps removal is painless, because there aren’t any nerve endings in the colon lining. If bleeding does occur, it can be stopped with medication or an electrical probe passed through the colonoscope.
After the colonoscopy, patients will have to stay in a recovery room for an hour or two for observation. Cramping and sensation of gas may occur and pass quickly. Read discharge papers carefully after the procedure.
Complications such as bleeding and puncture of the colon are rare. Contact a doctor if you have excessive or prolonged rectal bleeding, severe abdominal pain, fever or chills.
A driver will be required for a ride home because patients receive sedation medication during the procedure. Patients are advised not to drive 24 hours after the procedure in order for the sedative to wear off.
If colorectal cancer progresses, it can spread to other parts of the body such as the liver, lungs or bones. Tumours and sometimes an entire section of colon and/or rectum may be removed during surgery. Advanced CRC treatment typically involves a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.
A stool test is used to check for CRC without a colonoscope. These tests check stool samples for blood and abnormal DNA from cancer or polyp cells. Hemorrhoids, anal fissures and Crohn’s disease can also involve blood in the stool as it is not solely caused by cancer.
Virtual Colonoscopy uses a computed tomography (CT) to construct 3D images of the colon without a colonoscope. However, if abnormalities are found, a colonoscopy usually follows. The procedure also involves a cleansing diet and a small flexible rubber tube inserted into the rectum so the colon can be inflated with carbon dioxide.
Risk factors: There is no “single cause” for developing this disease, but there are a number of risk factors that include:
-A family history of colon cancer. If a first degree relative (parents, offspring or siblings) was diagnosed with CRC, it is recommended to get tested 10 years before that relative’s diagnosis.
-Polyps detected in a screening
-A diet high in fat
-Family history of inherited breast, uterine or ovarian cancer.
-An inactive lifestyle
-Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
Fast facts on colon cancer:
If screened and caught early – the chances of survival increase by 90 per cent.
Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer.
In 2011, 22,200 Canadians were diagnosed with colon cancer – 9,500 died.
Anyone 50-year-old and older should be screened regardless of family history and earlier if persons are at a higher risk.
For more information on the disease and ways to help, visit the Colon Cancer Canada website.
Copyright 2013 Global Saskatoon
Updated 652 days ago Article ID# 1477043
National Cancer Institute of Canada