Colorectal cancer (CRC), one of the top three killers across the world, has been witnessing around 1.4 lakh new cases and over six lakh deaths globally every year. This form of cancer that affects colon, rectum and part of the large intestine, develops to be fatal, if not diagnosed at earlier stages. With increasing cases among young adults in India, experts predict that there will be an epidemic outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years and therefore urge for early diagnosis, especially among youngsters.
“CRC, which is the third most common cancer among men and the fourth most common among women, had not found a place among the top 10 cancers until 2012,” said Dr Venkatesh Munikrishnan, consultant colorectal surgeon and director, Apollo Colorectal Surgery, on the sidelines of an event announcing the collaboration between the Institute of Colorectal Surgery at Apollo Hospital with Cleveland Clinic Florida, USA and University College London, UK, to create a platform for building awareness, teaching, training and accreditation in the management of colorectal diseases.
According to recent studies, it is found that over one in 10 cases take place among individuals below 50 years of age. “Consumption of red meat and the westernisation of diet, are a few common factors responsible for the growth in the incidence of this disease,” said Dr Daniel John, an oncologist from Kerala. More and more young adults are developing the disease, and only positive changes in terms of food habits could help reduce the incidence by 77 per cent," said Dr Daniel John, an oncologist from Kerala.
"Most people with CRC, tend to approach doctors late, due to various factors including lack awareness or the fear of being judged by society. Efforts must therefore be made to ensure that the general public is better educated on this form of cancer and that those with the symptoms approach doctors without any delay," added Dr Munikrishnan.
"Though constipation may not be a direct cause, it is one of the most common symptoms of the cancers," said Dr Anita Ramesh, Professor in Medical Oncology at Saveetha University. It is essential that every individual maintains a good bowel habit, she stressed.
The erratic lifestyle, consumption of junk food and red meat, smoking and alcohol, coupled with pollution and other changing lifestyle habits are why a lot of young adults fall prey to colorectal cancer. "Earlier, in India, people were not used to junk food. Now with the change in food habits, this form of cancer tends to develop as the consumption of fatty and junk foods disables smooth digestion and results in the increase in transport time of the bowel," said Dr. V. Shanta, Chairperson, Adyar Cancer Institute.
Rectal bleeding, blood in stools, constipation, diarrhea, improper bowel movements, weight loss are all symptoms of colorectal cancer and piles and therefore, they are usually ignored. "People tend to ignore the symptoms and opt for self medication. They visit the doctor only at a more complicated stage. It is always recommended to do a screening after four weeks of persistent symptoms to enable early diagnosis and treatment thus reducing risks of death," said Dr. Daniel John, an Oncologist from Kerala.