8 November, 2021
An early diagnosis of colorectal cancer improves prognosis
Colorectal cancer has a high impact in western countries. In Spain it’s the most frequent tumour among men and women, above lung cancer and breast cancer. Every year in our country more than 40,000 cases are diagnosed and the tendency is going up, in large part due to the influence of risk factors as the population gets older. But age isn’t the only factor that is related to the appearance of this tumour. Other aspects have an influence such as diet, lifestyle and family history. As with other types of cancer, an early diagnosis ends up being fundamental in its treatment. Different studies have shown that the earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis and if it’s carried out in the first stages of the disease, recovery is more possible, improving the patients’ results.
“Colorectal cancer is a type of tumour that we have studied in all its natural history, from the earliest stages in which a polyp or benign lesion appears which doesn’t produce any symptom until it becomes more invasive and can produce metastasis”
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN…
TOOLS FOR HELPING IN THE EARLY DIAGNOSIS OF COLORECTAL CANCER
For the diagnosis of many diseases, symptoms are the first clue that can warn us that something is not right. In colorectal cancer, the first symptoms are usually the presence of blood in the faeces, the change in bowel movements or abdominal pain. But many times when these first symptoms are produced, the disease is already in an advanced stage, given that in its very early stages barely any symptoms are produced, if any at all.
That’s why it becomes critical to carry out preventative diagnostic tests. Tha main one currently is colonoscopy. This is a test in which an apparatus, known as an endoscope, is inserted into the anus of the patient. This makes it possible to visualise the walls of all the large intestines and identify possible lesions. “It’s the best test out there right now that allows us to visualise both the disease in its earliest stages and its most advanced stages”, comments Dr. Balaguer.
“The colonoscopy is the best test out there right now that allows us to visualise both the disease in its earliest stages and its most advanced stages”
The other test to help in the early diagnosis of colorectal cancer is the detection of hidden blood in faeces. Dr. Francesc Balaguer explains that, “with this test, we can select those people that have a higher chance of having a lesion in the colon and confirm our suspicions via a colonoscopy”.
WHEN IS IT NECESSARY TO CARRY OUT AN EARLY DIAGNOSIS OF COLORECTAL CANCER?
Although it’s important to get the earliest diagnosis possible of this disease, it’s also true that it’s neither possible nor recommendable to submit everyone to this type of screening programme indiscriminately. As much for the discomfort they cause, given that the colonoscopy isn’t a simple procedure, as well as the excessive cost of carrying out these tests on everyone can suppose.
But a series of criteria have been established that help to select which people can benefit most from this. Basically, there are three big groups:
· People over fifty years of age
First in line would be those people over fifty years of age without a family history, who are recommended to carry out either one of the two tests.
· Family history of colon cancer
The second group would be those with a history of colon cancer in their family, who are recommended to carry out a colonoscopy even before reaching fifty.
· People who have had polyps or colon cancer
The last of the groups would be those who have had polyps in their intestine and were previously diagnosed with colon cancer, who should be monitored via periodical colonoscopies.
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN…
“In any case, the most important is that after fifty years of age one of these tests is carried out”, emphasises Dr.Francesc Balaguer, who also points out that in the Hospital clínic Group and in barnaclínic+ the highest quality comprehensive care is offered that allows for the advancement in the early detection of colon and rectal cancer, that is still one of the main causes of death despite advances carried out in the treatments of the last few years.