Early detection of colon cancer key to survival
A NEW study has reaffirmed the importance of early detection of colorectal cancer, which, if discovered in time, can be cured in 90% of cases.
Gastroenterologists report that 85% of operations between 2000 and 2015 to treat the disease were conducted on advanced tumours. Five years later, only 49% of those treated had survived.
The second most prevalent cancer among women and the third most prevalent among men, colon cancer is often fatal.
But nine out of 10 cases can be cured with early detection. However, if the disease is detected when intestinal occlusion has already occurred, the five-year survival rate dwindles to less than 50%.
For gastroenterologists, this finding underlines the importance of preventive examinations for those over 50.
Between 2000 and 2015, researchers monitored 2,325 patients (1,226 men and 1,099 women), who were treated as a matter of urgency in 58 centres for localised and metastasised colon cancer. The average age in the study group was 74.2 years, with 1,306 under 70.
The study found that the majority of patients (87% of those with right colon cancer and 82% of those with left colon cancer) who underwent emergency surgery for advanced tumours, which had not been diagnosed early enough, spent two weeks in hospital: a stay that would have been much shorter if the disease had been detected sooner.
For patients with cancer on the right side of the colon, the postoperative mortality rate was 10%, with an overall complication rate of 52% (36% medical and 28% surgical morbidity).
For patients with cancer on the left side, the mortality rate was 9%, with an overall complication rate of 50% (32% medical and 30% surgical).
More than 15% of patients who underwent emergency surgery also required permanent artificial anus.
“There are major differences in short-term results (mortality and postoperative complication), but also in the long term (fiveyear survival rate) that depend on the stage of the disease and the possible need for emergency surgery,” points out Patrick Pessaux, the head of the hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgical unit at the University Hospital of Strasbourg.
For those with a family history of colorectal cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease, doctors strongly recommend preventive colonoscopies after the age of 40, whose goal is not to detect cancer, but to prevent the disease from declaring.
People in this category are up to 10 times more likely to develop colorectal cancer.
A colonoscopy performed under general anesthetic allows a doctor to examine the intestinal wall and to detect the presence of polyps (benign tumours), which can be removed during the procedure. – AFP-Relaxnews a