How much do we know about colorectal cancer?

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Risk factors, such as obesity, help colon cancer appear.

“Until now the Cancer It was synonymous with death, but advances in diagnosis and treatments show us that there is more and more hope, “said Carmen González, executive president of the Merck Salud Foundation during the presentation of the results of a survey conducted to see what knowledge has the Spanish population about cancer in general and the Colorectal cancer in particular.

And the results are that, despite the fact that colorectal cancer is the first in incidence in Spain, (44,000 new cases are diagnosed each year) It is not the best known. The leadership takes the breast cancer, although it is the fourth in incidence (27,000 new cases every year). “The data reveal that less than half of the population (45 percent) knows the symptoms associated with colorectal cancer and that of those who know them, 2 out of 5 people do not know how this disease can be treated,” González insisted. who pointed out that to this day the knowledge that exists about treatments is still focused on chemotherapy and surgery when there is a new window of opportunity with tests like liquid biopsy, important for metastatic colorectal cancer or precision medicine.

Another aspect that put the survey on the table is that regarding the myths associated with this type of cancer, the population knows in most cases what is false and true: Colorectal cancer is not always fatal or always hereditary. It also highlights that half of the population believes that the risk of colorectal cancer is reduced if red meat is not consumed. “It is true that excess calories from consuming red meat, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, diabetes or obesity are risk factors for the disease,” added Alfredo Carrato, head of the Oncology Service of the General University Hospital Ramón y Cajal, in Madrid.

More attention to prevention

Carrato stressed in the meeting that “we must not lose sight of the fact that colon cancer is the first tumor in Spain and that we should promote primary and secondary prevention so that the mortality figures (14,000 cases each year) decrease”.

Before this he emphasized that from the age of 50 it is necessary to have an annual test of occult blood in the stool. This simple and innocuous test allows detecting if there is cancer or if there are polyps. The latter can be easily excised and would prevent evolution to colon cancer. “Currently between 20 and 25 percent of diagnoses of colorectal cancer are made when it is in an advanced stage. This would advance the diagnosis. “

At this point, Emilio Iglesia, president of the EuropaColon patient association, agreed that if there was an adequate screening program and secondary prevention was well implanted and the occult blood test was performed in the stool 4,000 of the current 14,000 deaths would be avoided.

“This cancer is more stigmatized than others, perhaps because the explorations are done in a very intimate area. For this reason, it is not as known, “said Church, who highlighted the importance and work of patient associations.

See also:

Colorectal cancer: what role does tumor localization play?

Liquid biopsy, the future revolution to fight cancer

Colon cancer: early detection is key


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