Doctors affiliated with the Lebanese Society of Medical Oncology (LSMO) have reported increased numbers of patients seeking early detection of Colorectal Cancer following a joint campaign with Bayer HealthCare that helped spread the message that the disease is preventable, treatable, and beatable.
“We are very happy to report that our call to people over 50 years old to screen for colorectal cancer for early detection that can prevent it or provide a high chance of cure has been very well received by the Lebanese public,” said Dr. Fadi Farhat, Professor of Medicine and LSMO President, announcing feedback on Colorectal Cancer Awareness month activities conducted in March 2015, which entailed brochure distributions, posters at clinics and hospitals, and media appearances.
“We don’t have exact numbers on how many people have been tested for the disease since, but we know from LSMO doctors’ feedback that there was a noticeable increase in inquiries from their patients.”
Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of the digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last several inches of the colon. Together, they're referred to as colorectal cancer, which is one of only a few cancers that can be prevented through screening, yet remains the second most commonly reported cancer in females and the fourth most common cancer in males in Lebanon.
Most cases of colon cancer begin as small, benign clumps of cells called “Polyps” which can appear mushroom-shaped, or as flat or recessed growth into the wall of the colon. Removing these polyps before they become cancerous can prevent the disease.
In most cases, it's not clear what causes colon cancer. Doctors know that it occurs when healthy cells in the colon become altered.
Some of these cancers can be due to inherited gene mutations that are linked to only a small percentage of the disease. Inherited gene mutations don't make cancer inevitable, but they can increase an individual's risk of cancer significantly.
Other risk factors include: older age, as the great majority of people diagnosed are older than 50; a personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps; inflammatory intestinal conditions; family history of colon cancer and colon polyps, which may result from shared exposure to an environmental carcinogen or from diet or lifestyle factors; low-fiber, high-fat diet; a sedentary lifestyle; diabetes; obesity; smoking; heavy use of alcohol; and radiation therapy for other cancers directed at the abdomen.
While many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease, those that appear will likely vary depending on the cancer's size and location in the large intestine. They can include:
- A change in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of stool
- Rectal bleeding or blood in stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas, or pain
- A feeling that the bowel doesn't empty completely
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss.