DOH: eat fruits and vegetables, to prevent colorectal cancer

NAPLES, ITALY - APRIL 28: The commemorative fi...
President Corazon C. Aquino, Pope John Paul II, U.S. President Ronald Reagan are just some of the notable persons who have fought colorectal cancer.
The Department of Health (DOH) today strongly reminded the public to include fiber-rich food such as fruits and vegetables in their regular diets, to engage in physical activity, and to keep consumption of red meat in moderation as it was revealed that colorectal cancer now ranks as the 4th leading cancer sites in both sexes in the country.
Globally, it is estimated that there are about 1.23 million new cases of colorectal cancer detected every year. More than 50 percent of these may develop into advanced disease. Approximately 608,000 deaths are recorded annually. In the Philippines, Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona revealed that colorectal cancer affected approximately 5,787 Filipinos in 2010 alone. He added that the disease is more common in developing countries and in people aged 50 years and above.
Ona revealed that risk factors to the disease are both controllable and uncontrollable. Uncontrollable risk factors include age, family history of colorectal cancer, ovarian cancer, or breast cancer. He added that at age 50 years, one in four persons may have polyps or inflammatory bowel disease. On the other hand, controllable risk factors, or those that can be corrected by lifestyle modifications, include diet rich in red meat or processed foods, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol.
The disease’s signs and symptoms include constipation, or intermittent constipation and diarrhea, difficult bowel movement or change in bowel habit, blood in the stool, weight loss, fever, loss of appetite, extreme tiredness, nausea or vomiting, jaundice, abdominal discomfort, and gas pains or cramps. Rectal bleeding or anemia may also occur in persons over 50 years old.
Ona stressed that early cancer detection increases the chances of curability and survival. Early detection can be done through digital rectal examination, fecal occult blood test, colonoscopy, and proctosigmoidoscopy and consultation for any change in bowel habits.
Health experts agree that the primary prevention to colorectal cancer is lifestyle modification consisting of low-fat diet with plenty of fiber and at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five or more days a week, and avoidance of smoking.
The American Cancer Society reports that smoking increases the risk of developmental colorectal cancer. As soon as one quits, the risk of colon cancer starts to decrease.
For those 50 years or older, Ona recommends a colon cancer screening. He added that more than 90 percent of colon cancer patients are 50 years or older and the average age of diagnosis is 64. Getting screened is an excellent colon cancer prevention method.
For colorectal cancers, multidisciplinary team approach is key to improved patient outcomes involving surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and the newer targeted therapies.
This year’s observance of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month dubbed as “Kapit-Bisig Sa Paglaban Sa Colorectal Cancer” is a collaboration of the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology, Merck Serono, and the Department of Health.
“Health lifestyles and early detection are important keys in fighting cancer,” the secretary said.