‘New age epidemic’: 90 pc colorectal cancers preventable, says Onco surgeon


20 pc colorectal cancer patients below 35 yrs, 50 pc present in Stage-3′; doctors call for awareness, screening

Jahangeer Ganaie

Srinagar, Mar 27 (KNO): Colorectal cancer, a major health challenge globally, is increasingly becoming a cause for concern in Kashmir, with medical experts raising concern over the rising incidence rates and a growing number of young patients.

Speaking with the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), Dr Shabnam Bashir, a senior consultant specialising in breast and colorectal cancer surgeries, revealed startling statistics which show the severity of the situation. “Ninety percent of colorectal cancers are preventable, yet we are witnessing a surge in cases, with 20 percent of patients being below 35 years of age,” she said.

Dr Shabnam described colorectal cancer as a “new age epidemic”, saying approximately 2 crore new cases are detected worldwide annually, resulting in 1 crore deaths.

Despite advancements in medical science, she lamented that a major portion of these cases could have been prevented, with colorectal cancer being one of the most common types alongside oral, lung, breast, and cervical cancers.

“March is observed as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month globally,” Dr Shabnam said. She shed light on the prevalence and impact of this disease.

According to the GLOBOCAN 2020 report, colorectal cancer ranks as the 3rd most diagnosed cancer in men and the 2nd in women worldwide, with around 15 lakh new cases detected annually.

In India, Dr Shabnam revealed that approximately 75,000 new cases are detected annually, with a concerning trend of younger patients being affected. “In a study conducted at the State Cancer Center SKIMS, we found that 20% of colorectal cancer patients are below 35 years of age, with 50% of cases being diagnosed at Stage 3,” she added.

About regional variations, Dr Shabnam said that Southern Europe, Australia and Northern Europe are among the regions with the highest incidence rates globally.

In India, Bangalore sees a higher prevalence among men, while Aizwal district in the northeast reports more cases among women, she informed.

She further said the projected increase in colorectal cancer cases globally by 2030 is alarming and stressed the need for better screening programs and awareness campaigns.

Despite advancements in screening tests, the doctor said mortality rates are still high. She cited factors such as late presentations, lack of awareness and inadequate access to healthcare facilities.

She also highlighted the importance of understanding risk factors associated with colorectal cancer, including age, gender, family history, lifestyle habits, and genetic predisposition. She urged people to adopt preventive measures such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol consumption.

“Early screening and diagnosis play a critical role in improving survival rates. So, the people need to be vigilant about the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer and go for regular screenings for early detection and timely intervention to combat this disease effectively,” Dr Shanman added—(KNO)


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