Who are more likely to develop and die from colorectal cancer? Those people who have smoked tobacco for a long time.
“We know that smoking may cause lung cancer but let us not forget that it is linked to different types of cancers also like colon cancer. Smoking increases the risk of colorectal cancer mortality,” said Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, a trustee of HealthJustice Philippines.
Dr. Galvez Tan, who is also a former Health Secretary, said smoking affects a person’s prognosis once diagnosed.
In the Philippines, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths.
The Department of Health (DOH) said that warning signals of colon cancer include change in bowel habits.
This includes recurrent diarrhea and constipation, particularly with the presence of abdominal discomfort, weight loss, unexplained anemia, and blood in the stool.
Unfortunately, early colon cancer is asymptomatic, and there is still no efficient screening method for early detection.
The DOH said that the aim should be an earlier diagnosis of symptomatic patients who complain of changes in bowel habits, vague abdominal pains, and unexplained weight loss and anemia, particularly among patients 50 years old and above, by means of barium enema or colonoscopy.
The mistaken obsession of physicians with amoebiasis and other forms of inflammatory bowel disease had for decades been a major factor that had delayed the diagnosis of colon cancer.
The wider availability of antidiarrheals, antibiotics and amoebecides may have worsened the situation.
“Too many physicians still insist in giving vitamin preparations and hematinics for chronic unexplained weight loss and anemia without carefully looking for the cause,” the DOH said.
Dr. Galvez Tan encouraged smokers to quit.
“Quitting smoking will reduce your risk of colon cancer. It will not only improve the overall health of smokers but it will protect their loved ones from the dangers of second-hand smoke exposure,” Dr. Galvez Tan said.
Studies indicate that colon cancer is highly preventable.
Increasing physical activity, keeping a healthy weight, reduction of alcohol consumption and not smoking are among the ways people can reduce their risk of colon cancer.
Published by: CLAUDETH MOCON-CIRIACO