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Friday September 23, 2016
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A large majority of colorectal cancers are diagnosed after age 50. — AFP picA large majority of colorectal cancers are diagnosed after age 50. — AFP picPARIS, Sept 23 — A new study has reaffirmed the crucial importance of the early detection colorectal cancer, which, if discovered in time, can be cured in 90 per cent of cases. Gastroenterologists who monitored 2,325 patients between 2000 and 2015 report that 85 per cent of operations to treat the disease were conducted on advanced tumours. Five years later, only 49 per cent of those treated had survived. These results will be presented at the AFC (French Surgeons Association Congress) congress to be held in Paris from September 28 to 30.

The second most prevalent cancer among women and the third most prevalent among men, colon cancer is often fatal. However, with early detection it can be cured in approximately nine out of 10 cases. Thereafter, the new study reports, if the disease is detected when intestinal occlusion has already occurred, the five-year survival rate dwindles to less than 50 per cent. For gastroenterologists, this finding underlines the importance of preventive examinations for those over 50.

Between 2000 and 2015, researchers monitored 2,325 patients (1,226 men and 1,099 women), who were treated as a matter of urgency in 58 centres for localised and metastasised colon cancer. The average age in the study group was 74.2 years, with 1,306 under 70.

The study found that the majority of patients (87 per cent of those with right colon cancer and 82 per cent of those with left colon cancer) who underwent emergency surgery for locally advanced tumours, which had not been diagnosed early enough, spent two weeks in hospital: A stay that would have been much shorter if the disease had been detected sooner.

Five years later, the survival rate was just 49 per cent

For patients with cancer on the right side of the colon, the postoperative mortality rate was 10 per cent with an overall complication rate of 52 per cent (36 per cent medical morbidity, and 28 per cent surgical morbidity). For patients with cancer on the left side of the colon, the mortality rate was 9 per cent with an overall complication rate of 50 per cent (32 per cent medical — 30 per cent surgical), and a 20 per cent rate of definitive stoma. It is worth noting that more than 15 per cent of patients who underwent emergency surgery required a permanent artificial anus.

“If it is detected sufficiently early, colorectal cancer can be cured in 90 per cent of cases. There are major differences in short-term results (mortality and postoperative complication), but also in the long-term (five-year survival rate) that depend on the stage of the disease and the possible need for emergency surgery,” points out Patrick Pessaux, the Head of the hepato-biliary and pancreatic surgical unit at the University Hospital of Strasbourg.

Preventive colonoscopy for those over 40

For those with a family history of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, doctors strongly recommend preventive colonoscopies after the age of 40, whose goal is not to detect a cancer, but to prevent the disease from declaring. People in this category are up to ten times more likely to develop colorectal cancer.

A colonoscopy performed under general anaesthetic allows a doctor to examine the intestinal wall and to detect the presence of polyps (benign tumours), which can be removed during the procedure.

These findings will be presented at the AFC (French Surgeons Association Congress) congress to be held in Paris from September 28 to 30. — AFP-Relaxnews

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