DANIELS G. O
WORLD COLORECTAL CANCER DAY
Cancer of the Colon ,COLORECTAL or Rectum is located at the digestive tracts lower End.
COLORECTAL Cancer is the most frequent type of malignant Tumor And 2nd To take more lives.
This type of Cancer Begins most times without symptoms but can be detected Early through regular screening
More Than one Hundred thousand cases of COLORECTAL Cancer Cases are recorded annually in Nigeria.
An Estimated 149,500 People are projected to be diagnosed with this highly preventable Disease
Age is A Risk Factor For Colon COLORECTAL Cancer as 94 Percent of cases are diagnosed in people Above 50 years of Age.
If detected Early, COLORECTAL Cancer is treatable that is why much effort is devoted to awareness campaign especially on a day like this and in the month of March which is the National COLORECTAL Cancer Awareness Month.
***Awareness of the symptoms and signs of colorectal cancer is lifesaving, prudent and significantly saves you a lot of money.
A case in point is a friend of mine who called me during the COVID–19 lockdown last year. He had been unwell since Christmas of 2019. He said he had experienced significant weight loss over a 3-month period. Hitherto, he was on treatment for recurrent abdominal pain for about 2 years and had been treated a number of times for typhoid and malaria.
He denied a history of significant change in bowel habit.
He couldn’t affirm if he had a family history of bowel cancer.
He never had the abdominal pain comprehensively evaluated as he was just consuming anti-ulcer medications in addition to anti typhoid and anti malaria medications.
During the COVID 19 lockdown the mode of patient consultation was telemedicine, so he was just instructed to do a computerized tomography scan (CT) of the abdomen. The CT scan revealed a tumour in the colon (left side).
A colonoscopy was performed on him, to visualize the tumour and a biopsy was taken.
This confirmed the colorectal cancer.The red flags in his clinical history were abdominal pain and significantly more worrisome the dramatic weight loss. Subsequently, he was operated upon.
During his operation, the findings were extremely disheartening as the cancer had also spread to his liver.
The cancerous tumor in the left colon was removed to prevent it from causing an obstruction. After his discharge, he started chemotherapy, which was essentially palliative care, making him comfortable without the possibility of a cure.
There was nothing more we could do because of the extent of the cancer spread. He spent about N5 million on chemotherapy over a 6-month period but eventually died.
Unfortunately, this sad tale is very common but could have been averted if the earlier signs had been comprehensively evaluated.
He was treated for 2-3 years for abdominal pain assumed to be ulcer (peptic ulcer disease) without any test (endoscopy) done.
What are the lessons from this depressing tale? – Awareness of the red flag symptoms and signs of colorectal cancer:
***PAYING ATTENTION TO RED FLAGS
“If you have any of the red flags, do not ignore your symptoms no matter what your age is:
• Recurrent or persistent abdominal pains
• Rectal bleeding or blood in stool
• Change in bowel habits- change in the color, size, shape, narrowing of stool.
• Unintentional weight loss.
• Persistent abdominal discomfort, feeling bloated, cramps or excessive gas
• Weakness or fatigue
Reduce your risk by employing the following strategies:
1. Eat a healthy diet: increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables and
reduce consumption of red meat and fatty meals
2. Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active. 30 minutes brisk walking 5–
7 days in a week.
3. If you have any of the above warning signs please see a General Surgeon
4. Know your family history of cancers. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you must have a colonoscopy done.
5. Never trivialise any changes in your bodily function.
6. Do not ascribe increasing difficulty in passing stool to change in your diet or
7. Screen yourself annually for bowel cancer by doing any of the following tests
a) Faecal occult blood test (FOBT)
b) Faecal immunochemical test (FIT)
8. If any of the above test is positive, this will make a colonoscopy necessary.
While we commemorate this day, we should be aware of the symptoms and educate others on Colorectal Cancer and need to screen oneself annually.
Dr Adedapo Osinowo
Consultant General Surgeon (Colorectal) LUTH .Idi -Araba . Lagos . Nigeria.