Colon cancer is the most common type of gastrointestinal cancer. It is a type of cancer that begins in the large intestine (colon). The colon is the final part of the digestive tract.
Colon cancer typically affects older adults, though it can happen at any age. It usually begins as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called polyps that form on the inside of the colon. Over time some of these polyps can become colon cancers.
Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms. For this reason, doctors recommend regular screening tests to help prevent colon cancer by identifying and removing polyps before they turn into cancer.
In light of this, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that screening for colorectal cancer should start at age 45.
According to the draft guidelines published recently, screening should continue at recommended intervals until age 75, NewYork Times reports.
For adults ages 76 to 85, the Task Force recommends that the decision to screen be made on an individual basis.
“The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) today posted a draft recommendation statement on screening for colorectal cancer. For the first time, the Task Force is recommending that screening start at age 45. This is a B recommendation.
“The Task Force continues to strongly recommend screening people who are 50 to 75 years old. This is an A recommendation. Overall, people ages 45 to 75 should be screened to reduce their risk of dying from this disease.
“For adults ages 76 to 85, the Task Force continues to recommend that the decision to screen be made on an individual basis. This is a C recommendation. These draft recommendations all apply to adults without symptoms and who do not have a personal history of colorectal polyps, or a personal or family health history of genetic disorders that increase the risk of colorectal cancer,”
the draft reads in part.
According to a professor of surgery and surgical oncologist at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba, Adeyinka Adisa, colon cancer is the second leading cancer affecting males in Nigeria.
While noting that prostate is the number one cancer affecting men in Nigeria, the oncologist said the prevalence of colon cancer is also high and there has been a rise in colon cancer cases among younger people in recent years.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Task Force said colorectal cancer is a devastating disease and is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.
Despite strong evidence that screening for colorectal cancer is effective, about a quarter of people ages 50 to 75 have never been screened, it noted.
“Unfortunately, not enough people in the U.S. receive this effective preventive service that has been proven to save lives,” says Task Force chair Alex Krist, adding, “We hope that this recommendation to screen people ages 45 to 75 for colorectal cancer will encourage more screening and reduce people’s risk of dying from this disease.”
The Task Force noted that black adults get colorectal cancer more often than other populations and are more likely to die from this disease.
The Task Force recognizes this disproportionate risk and encourages clinicians to offer recommended colorectal cancer screening to their Black patients beginning at age 45.
“New science about colorectal cancer in younger people has enabled us to expand our recommendation to screen all adults starting at age 45, especially Black adults who are more likely to die from this disease,” says Task Force member Michael Barry, M.D.
“Screening earlier will help prevent more people from dying from colorectal cancer.”
In the draft recommendation, there are two types of tests that are recommended to screen for colorectal cancer: direct visualization tests and stool-based tests.
“There are many tests available that can effectively screen for colorectal cancer,” says Task Force member Martha Kubik, Ph.D., R.N.
“We urge primary care clinicians to discuss the pros and cons of the various recommended options with their patients to help decide which test is best for each person.”
Adisa added that colorectal constitutes 5.8 per cent of all new cancer cases in Nigeria.
“This represents 41.5 per cent increase in new cases considering that it accounted for 4.1 per cent of new cancer cases in 2012,” he said.
He added that the rates of colorectal cancer are higher among males than females possibly because of diet, truncal obesity which is commoner in males.
The expert said early diagnosis makes the difference between life and death.
“You don’t have to wait for any cancer to become fatal. Early detection and treatment are of utmost importance,”