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Prevention and Treatment of Colon Cancer

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Aside from inserting a camera into the colon to check for cancer, genetic screening is another key technique now used all over the world to assess a patient’s risk of developing colon cancer.
  • There is a 10% chance of colon cancer being passed down to the next generation through family genes.
  • Techniques are currently available to evaluate the 50 most common genes which play an important role in causing up to 30 types of cancer.
Related information:
Precision Medicine | Preconception Genetic Testing | Targeted Therapy for Cancers | Oncogenetic Screening

Who is at risk?

Genetic factors such as a family history of colon cancer or cancers affecting the breast, uterus, ovary, urinary tract, pancreatic cancer and bile duct, places an individual at a higher risk of colon cancer. A diet low in fibre and/or high in red meat and other diseases of the colon, such as inflammatory bowel disease, also contributes to the development of cancer. People with metabolic syndromes, such as diabetes, obesity, fatty liver or high cholesterol, also run an increased risk of colon cancer.

“Most people have a lot of stress in terms of lifestyle changes and that leads to more diseases similar to the Western countries,” says Dr. Pitulak Aswakul, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist at Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital, referring to the rates of colon cancer in the west.

Which groups should undertake colon cancer screening?

Colon cancer screening should be undertaken by both males and females over the age of 50, as well as those under the age of 50 who fall under the high-risk bracket due to:

  • A family history of colon cancer
  • A history of chronic colon inflammation
  • A family history of various types of cancer

Screenings help to prevent colon cancer

The importance of screening for polyps or growths inside the colon cannot be emphasised enough as it can help prevent the development of cancer. “Colon cancer development is critical; about 70 to 80 percent of colon cancer develops from a small polyp,” says Dr. Pitulak.

A polyp is a growth inside the colon that will gradually increase in size and can develop into a cancer within 3-5 years. However, not all polyps become cancerous. Detection and removal of a polyp, before it turns cancerous, can prevent colon cancer.

Courtesy of colon cancer screenings, patients who have been diagnosed at the advanced stages of colon cancer have decreased. High-risk individuals should be screened before they are 50 years old.

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A colonoscopy is a procedure to examine the colon. The colonoscope is inserted through the anus and up the whole length of the colon. This procedure itself takes about 20 to 35 minutes on average. If any polyps are detected, the procedure may take longer as they would have to be removed.

Treatment and prevention through oncogenetic screening

From a total of over 20,000 genes found in the body, there are around 500 genes which are associated with developing cancer. Those associated genes can be split into 2 major groups: oncogenes, which are responsible for stimulating cell growth and reproduction to a point whereby they become uncontrollable and tumor suppressor genes, which carry out the duty of repairing damaged DNA as well as slowing cell reproduction.

Oncogenetic screening is a modern medical technique that operates according to the principles of “Precision Medicine”. This means that it helps to prevent the disease, as well as provides the knowledge that helps to deliver more efficient treatment techniques than ever before. The technique utilizes data acquired through genetic assessments that are undertaken to give a clearer picture of each individual patient’s risk of developing cancer, or to prepare the most effective treatment plan for the patient.

Targeted therapy is not just for the treatment of any one condition. It can also be used to prevent the condition from making a return. Owing to the fact that the risk of cancer can be hereditary, extinguishing the chances of developing cancer at its source in those who are at a higher risk of colon cancer is the most effective preventative measure available.

Targeted therapy can also be used to treat colon cancer which has already taken hold, as the method targets the cancerous cells exclusively via medication, which attacks those cells directly without destroying other, fully functional cells. This treatment can therefore be considered by oncologists when selecting the most appropriate treatment for use against cancer in its spreading stage. It may also be utilized instead of chemotherapy as it has significantly fewer side effects.

The Thai medical field has made significant progress recently and we are now able to offer oncogenetic screening so patients do not need to travel abroad for this screening anymore. We can screen around 50 of the most important cells that can produce at least 30 different forms of cancer. If it is found that someone is at a high risk of developing cancer, doctors can now offer advice on certain lifestyle alterations and future courses of treatment with increased confidence and without hesitation.

However, colon cancer can only be cured if found in its early stages. Therefore, undergoing screening to evaluate the risk of developing cancer is the best and most efficient form of prevention.

Advancements in colon cancer treatment have reduced recovery periods

Treatment modalities for colon cancer have evolved since the advent of minimally-invasive surgery, such as laparoscopy, a medical procedure to examine the interior of the abdominal or pelvic cavity using a slender tube, called a laparoscope. The instrument is inserted through a small incision to assist with diagnosis or treatment of a number of different diseases and conditions. In the past, treatment requiring open surgeries meant a patient had to be admitted into hospital for a minimum of two weeks. However, minimally invasive surgery usually requires patients to be admitted for only three or four nights, and many patients are able to resume regular activities within a few weeks after undergoing laparoscopic surgery.

Recovery and prevention of a relapse

For the first few days after colon surgery, a patient is advised to fast and then gradually move on to liquid and soft diets. A balanced diet high in fibre is recommended for patients who have been treated for colon cancer. As nutrition is crucial for recovery, there are no dietary restrictions.

For patients formerly diagnosed with colon cancer, continued screening for early detection of polyps; a lifestyle change which includes regular exercise and a controlled diet rich in fibre and fluids, while low in red meat and fats; and regular follow-up sessions are ways to minimise the risk of getting colon cancer again.

Treating Colon Cancer Effectively with Targeted Therapy

There are many different types of cancer treatment available. For most people, the type of treatment that they receive will vary according to their type of cancer and how advanced its growth may be. Some examples of common treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, Immunotherapy, hormone therapy and surgery – or perhaps a combination of many of these.

With continued advancements in modern medicine, many hospitals are now able to offer patients a targeted therapy treatment plan. This form of treatment specifically targets the underlying changes in individual cancer cells, and helps to combat their ability to grow and spread throughout the body. In addition to yielding better overall results, this form of treatment has also been found to have significantly less side effects when compared to traditional treatment options such as chemotherapy. Targeted therapy can also treat a wide range of cancers and is suitable for patients of all ages.

Do you have a question about colon cancer?

Please complete the form below and we'll get back to you within 48 hours with a response

Related information:
Precision Medicine | Preconception Genetic Testing | Targeted Therapy for Cancers | Oncogenetic Screening

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