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March is Colorectal Cancer Month

As the country celebrates Colorectal Cancer Month in March, the Eduardo J. Aboitiz Cancer Center (EJACC) of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. urged the public to engage in early detection and prevention measures to fight colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is a disease in which normal cells in the lining of the colon or rectum begin to change, grow without control, and no longer die. It usually begins as a noncancerous polyp that can, over time, become a cancerous tumor.

“The most important thing to know about colorectal cancer is that it often exists without any symptoms. This is why regular screening is very important. Regular screening can detect polyps at an early state before cancer develops or when it is most curable,” Ronald delos Reyes, EJACC propgram coordinator, said.

He also pointed out that the colon and rectum, which comprise the large intestine, are vital in turning liquid stool into formed fecal matter.

According to EJACC’s Metro Cebu Population-based Cancer Registry statistics, incidence rate and mortality rate of colorectal cancer among men and women aged 30 years old and above are high.

Within 1993 to 2005, about 773 men and 600 women who are 30 years old and beyond were recorded to have the disease. Within the same period, 464 men and 344 women aged 30 and above have died of the cancer.

There were still people aged 0 to 29 who acquired colorectal cancer (47 individuals) and died of it (26 individuals) from 1993 to 2005.

The most common signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer include change in bowel habits that persists for more than four days; change in bowel habits that may include diarrhea, constipation or decreased stool thickness; feeling that the bowel is not completely emptied after a bowel movement; presence of bright red or very dark blood in the bowel movement or on tissue paper; persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas pains, or bloating; feeling of a lump in the rectum; vomiting; chronic fatigue and unexplained weight loss; history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn disease; and certain hereditary conditions like familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer.

“Many people are aware of colorectal cancer but I am not sure of the extent of their knowledge. That is why we at EJACC will continue our educational campaign in the fight against cancer and, in the process, nurture the culture of learning,” Delos Reyes said.

On Mar. 16, EJACC will hold a lecture on colorectal cancer in Mandaue City.

Delos Reyes emphasized that colorectal cancer is preventable through screening methods, such as physical exam and colonoscopy, as well as second prevention measures, such as regular exercise and maintenance of a well-balanced diet.

“We must take a pro-active approach in the fight against cancer. When we know about a cancer and engage in early detection measures then the possibility of preventing it is very high,” he said.

Other screening methods for colorectal cancer include fecal occult blood test, digital rectal exam, and biopsy, among others.

For more information about colorectal cancer, please contact EJACC at at 254-6351 and look for Gina Mariquit.


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