Colon cancer is a disease that results from normal colon cells mutating. These cells divide until there are so many of them that the body cannot cope. In its early stages, the disease may occur as a tumor. However, if it is left untreated and not removed, it could lead to the onset of cancer.
Studies have found that undergoing colonoscopy can dramatically reduce the mortality rate that results from colon cancer. Doctors recommend colonoscopy from the age of 45 years and above, even when no symptoms are displayed.
Conversely, those with a family history of colon cancer should subtract 10 years from the age at which their family member contracted the disease. This provides the age at which family members should carry out colon cancer screening. For instance, if a father contracted colon cancer at age 40, subtract 10. So his offspring and relatives should begin colonoscopy from the age of 30, regardless of whether symptoms are displayed. This is because the family is considered to be at a higher risk than the general population.
Samitivej Hospital now offers polyp screening which identifies up to 60% of polyps before they can develop into colon cancer. The international average is currently at just 25%*. The sooner doctors identify the polyp, the higher the chance of successful treatment thereafter.
Many colon cancer cases do not display any symptoms whatsoever. This means that people are often unaware that they are suffering from the condition. Then there are cases where symptoms that develop are similar to other conditions associated with the colon and digestive system. Again, this can be misleading and the sufferer could be oblivious of the risks. Such symptoms include a change in bowel movements, alternating between bouts of diarrhea and constipation, a sudden unexpected loss of weight, severe exhaustion and a loss of color in the face.
Others may experience bloody stools or chronic stomach pain, especially around the abdomen area. All of these could be signifiers of colon cancer that has already reached stages 2-4. Therefore, if you experience any digestive system irregularities continuously for a period of over two weeks, go to a specialist. Receive a thorough diagnosis of the cause, as well as the appropriate treatment thereafter.
The onset of colon cancer can be categorized in to the following four stages:
Samitivej Hospitals’ doctors use the latest techniques for screening colon cancer which includes the narrow band imaging (NBI). This Japanese technique uses green/blue light rays to identify the presence of polyps, providing doctors with a clearer view of the polyps.
Furthermore, doctors use Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) and endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD), which are forms of painless minimally invasive surgery (MIS). These techniques allow surgeons to remove large polyps from the colon and stomach without the need for an incision into the abdomen. Hence, it does not leave the patient with any long-lasting scarring that could become a constant source of anxiety. Moreover, risks associated with surgery are reduced and time is saved. As a result, patients can make a speedy recovery and return to their daily lives much more quickly. In comparison, undergoing invasive surgery has a longer recovery period and carries the risk of complications that may arise.
Regular screening for colon cancer is the safest option. There are some interesting data available which reveal that 90% of colon cancer identification comes in the form of an adenomatous polyp in the colon. These polyps are considered precancerous lesions and have the potential to develop into cancer over the next 3-5 years. Therefore, in cases where doctors find a polyp measuring less than 1 cm in size, they recommend the patient to repeat screening every 3-5 years. However, if during the screening the doctor identifies a 1 cm polyp, the time frame for screening is adjusted to every 1-3 years. On the other hand, if a polyp is not found, doctors advise subsequent screening one once every 5-10 years.
Please note that for those with insulin resistance, it may be necessary to increase the frequency of screening. Ofcourse, this depends on the individual’s body state and other associated colon cancer risk factors.
In total, the colonoscopy procedure will only take around half a day.
Colonoscopy helps provide an analysis of the issues present in the colon. If doctors are able to spot abnormality in its initial stages, they can treat the disease before it spreads. Click here to read more about colonoscopy
Although medical technologies have progressed significantly and we can treat colon cancer, preventing is always better than cure. Therefore, Samitivej partnered with Japan’s Sano Hospital – a highly experienced institution for endoscopic procedures – to bring NBI technology to Thailand. NBI can help improve accuracy in identifying polyps by up to double the average rates. Click to read more