On one hand, COVID-19 has been unfolding in its changing gestures for past one year, grabbing full attention of healthcare systems, on the other hand, the treatment of most of the fatal diseases has been compromised – and cancer is one of them. Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and is responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Out of 9.6 million cancer deaths, colorectal cancer – the most common cancer contributed to 1.80 million deaths.
Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is cancer that starts in the colon (large intestine) or rectum. Both of these organs are in the lower portion of your digestive system. The rectum is at the end of the colon. Usually CRC attacks older adults when they are in their seventies of above. However, it can happen at any age.
Elaborating on the incidence and the fatality of Colorectal Cancer (CRC), Dr Deep Goel, Senior Director, Consultant Robotic surgeon, Department of Surgical Gastroenterology, Bariatric & Minimal Access Surgery, BLK Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi said, “This is the third most common cancer and the fourth most common cause of cancer death worldwide. Predictions of the future burden of the disease inform health planners and raise awareness of the need for cancer control action. Colorectal cancer may not present with any symptoms, especially in the early stages. However, if you do experience during the early stages, the symptoms may include – constipation, diarrhoea, changes in stool colour, blood in the stool, bleeding from the rectum, excessive gas, abdominal cramps and abdominal pain.”
Adding further, Dr Goel said, “There are so many factors of cancer to develop. It may be caused by genetic mutations, either inherited or acquired. These mutations don’t guarantee that it will cause the development of colorectal cancer, but they do increase the chances. Some mutations may cause abnormal cells to accumulate in the lining of the colon, forming polyps. There’s an array of risk factors that act alone or in combination to increase a person’s chances of developing colorectal cancer. Lifestyle-related risk factor such as dietary factor wherein Red meats (such as beef, pork, lamb, or liver) increases the risk. Likewise, cooking meats at very high temperatures (frying, boiling, or grilling) creates chemicals that increase risk. However, diets high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains along with increased physical activity have been linked with a decreased risk.”
Diagnosis & Treatment
The intensity of diagnosis followed by treatments determines the degree of cure to any disease. Thus in such conditions, early is better; the delay is fatal. Likewise, an early diagnosis of colorectal cancer gives the best chance of curing it. Usually, the diagnostic methods such as Colonoscopy & Biopsy — the most accurate, CT/MRI/PET scan, Stool for occult blood and tumour marker (CEA) are employed. Similarly, the popular screening methodologies employed are Colonoscopy/Sigmoidoscopy, and FOBT (Fecal occult blood testing).
As far as the treatment of colorectal cancer is concerned, it depends on a variety of factors. The state of your overall health and the stage of your colorectal cancer will help your doctor create a treatment plan. In the earliest stages of colorectal cancer, it might be possible for your surgeon to remove cancerous polyps through surgery. If the polyp hasn’t attached to the wall of the bowels, you’ll likely have an excellent outlook. Besides, Radiation therapy and Chemotherapy therapy are also used for its treatment.
In addition to the conventional treatment modality of colorectal cancer, newer technologies such as Liquid Biopsy, Minimal Invasive (Keyhole), Robotic, Personalised Chemotherapy, Targeted chemotherapy and Gene editing have been in use widely.
As all the modalities have their respective significance, Laparoscopic/Robotic surgery has certain advantages. This modality decreases pain, help return of bowel function, reduces the length of stay, reduces wound-related problems, renders less disability and finally gives a better cosmetic result.