September Edition - Metastatic Colorectal Cancer
Within the last few weeks, we have heard about the unfortunate and untimely death of a successful, young actor. Chadwick Boseman had endeared himself to his audience with his performances but he gained an entire new set of admirers in the dignified way that he handled his diagnosis, treatment and death from metastatic colorectal cancer.
Once again we can see the changing demographic of colorectal cancer and how it is becoming all too common in younger patients. Increased public awareness and engagement is the key to preventing colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer is now the second most common cause of cancer death worldwide in men. It is a third most common in women. Due to environmental and dietary factors, it appears that it is beginning to affect younger people more so than 20 years ago. Fortunately, we are more aware of this and there are opportunities to improve these figures. Colorectal cancer is preventable if the precursors to the cancer are found and removed. These precursors are called polyps and are often benign growths which have the potential to turn into something more sinister if left long enough in certain people. Whilst there currently is no colonoscopy screening program in the UK, certainly being aware of symptoms and signs remains of paramount importance.
In the last year or so we have also had better risk stratification through faecal immunochemical testing (FIT). Abnormalities in the stool sample tests should necessitate urgent colonoscopy. If polyps are found, they should be removed and then patients undergo a surveillance strategy with future colonoscopies at 1, 3 or 5 years depending on the findings. If a cancer is found early enough they are often curative with high survival rates for stage I and stage II cancers, which in most cases do not require radiotherapy or chemotherapy - only surgery.
If you do have any symptoms that you are worried about please do not hesitate to contact our team. The practice will arrange a timely outpatient appointment and the necessary investigations if required.