Colorectal Cancer Awareness

Being aware of the symptoms and accessing early colon cancer screening can save lives.

Many people are confused about the signs of colon cancer and what to do if they are concerned. It’s essential to listen to your body, try to adopt health habits and know the colon cancer risks.

Even more important, access early screening when you can to reduce your risks of colon cancer. Early screening can save lives. 

What Is Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer is a term for cancer that develops in the large colon. It can also be called bowel or colorectal cancer.

Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers diagnosed, with around 1 in 25 Europeans experiencing colon cancer in their lifetime.1 Yet, less than 50% of Europeans take part in screening programs.2

Taking part in free early screening and making the most of a healthy diet mixed with some exercise can really reduce the risks of a colon cancer diagnosis.

Symptoms Of Colon Cancer

There are three main symptoms to be aware of with colon cancer:

Changes in your bowel habits.

Perhaps you struggle with constipation or diarrhoea. You may be affected by both at different times. If you have these symptoms for more than a few weeks, it’s sensible to contact a healthcare professional.

Noticeable blood when you go to the toilet.

If you are aware of blood when you poo over 3 weeks or more, then accessing early free screening could give you peace of mind and check whether you need further tests for colon cancer.

Ongoing abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating.

You may experience these after eating. You might notice that you’ve lost weight without trying or that you have little appetite for food.

Many people with these symptoms won’t have colon cancer. But it’s a really good idea to check with an early free screening test to make sure you are clear of colon cancer or if you need further tests. 

Know The Risks Of Colon Cancer

There are risks you can’t control:

  • A family history of colon cancer could increase you risk.
  • Age: 9 in 10 cases of colon cancer are in people over 60.
  • Chronic inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC) are known factors which could raise your risk of colon cancer. 

There are risks you can control:

  • Weight. Obesity increases the risk of contracting colon cancer.
  • Having a poor diet could contribute to your risk. Increasing your intake of wholefoods, fruit and vegetables could help protect against colon cancer.
  •  Alcohol consumption and smoking could increase your risk of developing colon cancer.3
  • Not doing enough regular exercise. Just adding in a little movement every day can help to reduce your risk. Nearly 50% of cancer deaths can be avoided by taking action to protect against risk.4

Knowing your risks and taking positive steps with small daily changes could minimise your risk of colon cancer. 

Colon Cancer Screening

Some people believe screening is only for people with symptoms or are concerned about the cost.

Colon cancer screening is free of charge, screening invitations can happen between 50-75 depending on your country.  Taking part in screening could not be more easy or simple to do.

A simple screening test could reduce your risk of colon cancer by 20-30%.5

The most common way to screen is with a FIT test. Once you receive your test kit, you complete it in 3 easy steps:

  1. Open your test kit.
  2. Collect a small sample with the kit.
  3. Send the sample to the lab for testing.

A process that takes moments to complete but is vital as early screening can save lives.

Further Diagnosis

This test itself cannot absolutely determine if you have colon cancer; however,  it will identify if you need further tests to confirm a diagnosis. Your healthcare professional can give you lots of information around testing and diagnosis.

Colon Cancer Treatment

If you are diagnosed with colon cancer, there are a range of treatments available. Your healthcare professional would choose the most appropriate care pathway for your individual case.

The main colon cancer treatments are:

  • Surgery – a tumour or part of the bowel is removed. This is sometimes all the treatment a patient needs and can be very effective.
  • Chemotherapy – suitable medicine is used to kill cancer tumours and cells.
  • Radiotherapy – radiation treatment is applied to kill cancer tumours and cells.

Whatever your situation, your healthcare professional will decide on the best treatment to support your progress and give you all the information you need on colon cancer care. 

Why Medtronic Supports Colon Cancer Screening

 

Medtronic is a global leader in medical technology, services and solutions, employing more than 85,000 people worldwide. We serve physicians, hospitals and patients in nearly 160 countries.

Our mission is to alleviate pain, restore health and extend life. And, because 1 European dies every 3 minutes as a result of colon cancer,5 we believe early screening can save lives and reduce your risk of developing colon cancer. 

 

References:

  1. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
  2. Ponti A, Anttila A, Ronco G et al. Cancer Screening in the European Union: Report on the implementation of the Council Recommendation on cancer screening. EU Commission. 2017; May: pg169
  3.  Johnson CM, Wei C, Ensor JE, et al. Meta-analyses of colorectal cancer risk factors. Cancer causes & control : CCC. 2013;24(6):1207-1222
  4. Ponti A, Anttila A, Ronco G et al. Cancer Screening in the European Union: Report on the implementation of the Council Recommendation on cancer screening. EU Commission. 2017; May: pg14
  5. Colorectal cancer diagnoses dropped over 40% during COVID-19 pandemic, new study shows; 2021, Available at: https://ueg.eu/a/282 Accessed23.11.2021