Although there is no way to definitely prevent colorectal cancer development, individuals can reduce the risks by eliminating the controllable risk factors.
It is possible to diagnose colon and rectum cancer at an early stage with regular screenings so that it can be completely treated. In addition, detecting and removing the polyps that are yet to become cancerous will prevent colorectal cancer development.
COLORECTAL SCREENING STUDIES
Screening is a set of procedures performed to detect cancer or pre-cancerous lesions in people who do not have any disease related complaints or symptoms. Our most effective tool for prevention of colorectal cancer is performing regular screenings.
The time between the growth of abnormal cells to form polyps and the development colorectal cancer is approximately 10-15 years. Majority of polyps can be detected and removed before cancer development through regular screening programs. Screenings also provide early diagnosis of colorectal cancers which in turn makes complete treatment possible.
Patients who are not under colon and rectum cancer risk are recommended to start screening programs after the age of 50. Different screening methods are applied. Screening tests should start earlier for people who are in high risk group, like the ones with significant family history in terms of colorectal cancer.
WHICH TESTS ARE USED IN COLORECTAL CANCER SCREENING?
Fecal occult blood test Positive test result may indicate polyp or cancer.
Fecal DNA test Genetic research can be conducted on a stool sample for some DNA disorders that may cause cancer or polyp formation
Sigmoidoscopy Presence of polyp or cancer in rectum and descending colon is investigated using a soft tube with a light source at its tip.
Colonoscopy Rectum and whole colon can be seen using a longer and soft tube with a light source at its tip.
Double contrast barium enema Colon and rectum are evaluated with this radiographic examination method
CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) This is a specific tomography imaging performed to evaluate colon and rectum
CAN COLON RECTUM CANCER BE PREVENTED WITH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND CORRECT NUTRITION?
Diet and activity related recommendation to reduce colon and rectum cancer risks;
Avoid weight gain and obesity that cause increased abdominal circumference
Increase the frequency and intensity of physical activity
Reduce red and processed meat consumption
Consume more vegetables and fruit
Check if your calcium and vitamin D levels are within normal range
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
Some studies show that regular aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use reduces colorectal cancer and polyp development risk. In these studies, people who use these drugs for arthritis or heart attack prevention were evaluated. Other studies revealed findings that suggest aspirin use in patients who received early stage colorectal cancer treatment or had polyps removed prevent polyp development.
Use of Celcoxib (Celebrex), an FDA approved drug in USA, is shown to reduce polyps in FAP patients. Although this drug has lower risk of gastric bleeding, it causes increased heart attack and stroke risk. Therefore, this type of drugs should not be used without physician recommendation and control.
Oestrogen and progesterone drugs used for menopause treatment may reduce colorectal cancer development in women, however, cancers that occur after the menopause in women who receive these hormones can be seen in more advanced stages. Even though these drugs used in menopause reduce osteoporosis risk in women, they caused increased heart disease, embolism, breast and lung cancer development risks. Therefore, you should discuss advantages and disadvantages of these drugs before starting to use them.