bowel Cancers are becoming more widespread in Finland. The aging of the population in particular is the background, as the vast majority of intestinal cancers are diagnosed in people over 60 years of age. Colorectal cancer is the generic name for colon and rectal cancers.
“Currently, more than 3,500 diagnoses are given in Finland every year,” he says Arto Rantala, Docent, Area Director and Chief Physician of Turku University Central Hospital.
Bowel cancer is often completely asymptomatic at first. For some, however, it can quite quickly cause diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, or variable bowel function, among other things.
According to Rantala, the problem is that these symptoms are very common and also easily go to the peak of “sensitive stomach,” which can prolong the time to seek treatment.
Docent at Tampere University Hospital and specialist in gastroenterological surgery Marja Hyöty says that bowel cancer, for example, to distinguish the syndrome of irritable bowel or similar symptoms that cause intestinal diseases often bleeding.
“Almost always bleeding is not noticeable to the feces before the eyes, and sometimes the only symptom of bowel cancer is anemia due to prolonged and slow bleeding,” Benefit points out.
Although intestinal cancers are most common in the elderly, according to Rantala, the possibility of intestinal cancer should not be ruled out even in younger patients with intestinal symptoms.
The youngest patients with bowel cancer are around 35 to 40 years old. In addition, inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, increase the risk of bowel cancer, especially in the 20-40 age group.
The benefit of the colonoscopy is the most important method to help diagnose or rule out bowel cancer. In connection with endoscopy, biopsies are taken of the changes observed and polyps can also be removed that could develop into cancerous tumors over time.
“The large intestine endoscopy should have a low threshold. Unfortunately, many patients are still ashamed or afraid of endoscopy. ”
Rantala According to him, the diagnosis of intestinal cancer is often regrettably reached only after the cancer has been growing for years.
“Screening for bowel cancer is the best way to find bowel cancers at an early stage and in completely asymptomatic people, but it is currently done in only a few municipalities in Finland. Screening should definitely be nationwide, ”Rantala emphasizes.
The benefit agrees. Screening has been performed in Tampere since 2004, and many tumors have been found to be benign.
Intestinal cancer screening is performed on Finns aged 60–74. In screening the fecal sample to be tested, and if found blood, colon gastroscopy done.
Asymptomatic diseases can be found in the screening, because the tumor infiltrates the blood at an early stage – even benign. When you seek medical attention for symptoms, the disease may be advanced.
The benefit suggests that the prognosis for the cure of bowel cancer is most affected by its prevalence. About 90 percent of intestinal cancers that have not spread can be cured with surgery.
According to Rantala, about 20–30 per cent of intestinal cancers are found to be widespread, which makes treatment more difficult.
Western way of life, such as a low – fiber and high – meat diet, heavy alcohol consumption, smoking and the associated overweight, can predispose to intestinal cancer, says Marja Hyöty.
“Quitting smoking is also the most significant health act a person can do for bowel cancer,” Hyöty says.
On the other hand, healthy lifestyles such as plenty of exercise and a high-fiber diet can reduce the risk of bowel cancer, according to studies.
Arto Rantala points out that many slim active movements are also diagnosed with intestinal cancer every year.
“I remember cases where a patient who was running has not been able to run for as long as before and a slowly bleeding cancerous tumor has been found in the background. Self-prevention can be useful, but unfortunately it cannot be relied on. At the very least, if you develop symptoms, it is not advisable to prolong treatment. ”