Incidence and mortality
Colon cancer ranks 6th overall, 5th among males and 7th among females. An estimated 2,963 new cases, 1,548 in males 1,415 in females, together with 1,567 deaths will be seen in 1998. Colon cancer increases markedly after age 50.
Risk factors & prevention
Personal or family history of colon cancer; personal or family history polyps in the colon; inflammatory bowel disease.Evidence suggest that colon cancer may be linked to a diet high in fat and deficient in whole grains, fruit and vegetables.
A change in bowel habits such as recurrent diarrhea and constipation, particularly with the presence of abdominal discomfort, weight loss, unexplained anemia, and blood in the stool.
Unfortunately, early colon cancer is asymptomic, and there is still no efficient screening method for early detection. The aim should be earlier diagnosis of symptomatic patients who complain of changes in bowel habits, vague abdominal pains, and unexplained weight loss and anemia, particularly among patients 50 years old and above, by means of barium enema or colonoscopy.
The mistaken obsession of our physician with amoebiasis and other forms of inflammatory bowel disease had for decades been a major factor that had delayed diagnosis of colon cancer. The wider availability of antidiarrheals, antibiotics and amoebecides may have worsened the situation. Too many physicians still insist in giving vitamin preparations and hematinics for chronic unexplained weight loss and anemia without carefully looking for the cause.
Early colon cancer is curable, and surgery is the most effective method of treatment.