Marching Towards Colorectal Cancer Awareness: Prevention, Detection, and Treatment

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New Delhi (India), March 31: March is observed as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month globally to raise awareness about the importance of early screening and prevention of colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and a leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. However, despite the availability of screening measures, there is a significant lack of utilization of such facilities, leading to delayed detection and treatment of cancer.

The article highlights the global disparity between high and low-middle-income countries in cancer surgery mortality and morbidity outcomes. It also sheds light on the increased incidence of colorectal cancer, especially in the Asian continent, contributing to almost 50% of the worldwide colorectal cancer burden.

The article emphasizes the risk factors for colorectal cancer, which include hereditary genetic cancer syndromes, chronic inflammation, smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, and heavy red meat consumption. Modifying these risk factors by adopting a healthy lifestyle with a high-fibre diet, minimal red meat consumption, and regular exercise can significantly reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer.

The article also describes the symptoms of colorectal cancer, which include changes in bowel habits, blood in stool, abdominal pain, bloating with gas, unintentional weight loss, breathlessness, jaundice, extreme weight loss, and fatigue. Being aware of these symptoms helps in early consultation for quick diagnosis and successful treatment outcomes.

The article emphasizes the crucial role of surgery in the curative treatment of colorectal cancer. With significant advancements in colorectal cancer surgeries, such as robotic surgery, it is now possible to perform surgical resection of rectal cancers with high precision and accuracy, especially in males with a narrow pelvis. Continence-preserving rectal surgeries are feasible without compromising the oncological safety of colorectal cancer resection.

The article also highlights the promising research studies on immunotherapy for patients with colorectal cancer carrying specific gene mutations, leading to complete clinical response. Screening for colorectal cancer is an important tool for early detection, which can be done through various modalities to detect the presence of blood in the stool or by visualizing early or precancerous lesions in the bowel called adenomas.

In conclusion, with the advent of recent advances in colorectal cancer treatment, early detection and prevention are critical to the successful management of the disease. Awareness of the risk factors, symptoms, and screening measures can help in preventing, detecting, and curing colorectal cancer.

Dr. Chinnababu Sunkavalli is an esteemed robotic surgical oncologist with over 20 years of surgical experience. He currently is the Clinical Director, Surgical Oncology, Senior Consultant Robotic Surgical Oncologist at YASHODA Hospitals in Hitec City, Hyderabad. Dr. Sunkavalli did super speciality training (M.Ch.) in surgical oncology at the Gujarat Cancer Research Institute, Ahmadabad, where he ranked All India 2nd. He is the first qualified and trained robotic surgeon in Andhra Pradesh and is recognized as the best robotic surgical oncologist in Hyderabad. He was honoured with a fellowship at the Long Beach Cancer Center in 2009 and completed a GI fellowship at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York in the same year. Dr. Sunkavalli is a university topper and gold medalist in his master’s in surgery and super specialization in surgical oncology.

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