Home » “No cancer is more preventable than colon cancer” – what you need to pay attention to

“No cancer is more preventable than colon cancer” – what you need to pay attention to

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“No cancer is more preventable than colon cancer” – what you need to pay attention to

“Colon cancer prevention is the role model of prevention. “It is the most successful preventative measure we know,” said Berndt Birkner, President of the Network Against Colon Cancer eV and curator of the Felix Burda Foundation, opening the opening symposium for March Colon Cancer Month last Thursday evening. This has prevented 350,000 cases of colon cancer and 150,000 deaths in the last 20 years. This corresponds to a decrease in incidence of 30 percent, and the death rate even fell by 40 percent.

Colon cancer month March: Network against colon cancer and Felix Burda Foundation advocate prevention

There has also been a positive development in recent years. According to current information from the Central Institute for Statutory Health Insurance, the number of preventative colonoscopies in 2022 rose slightly by 1.4 percent compared to the previous year. In both the first and second quarters of 2023, 8.1 percent and 6.8 percent more colonoscopies were carried out compared to the same period last year. Additionally, 490,418 stool tests were issued in both quarters.

The current awareness campaign is aimed at ensuring that even more people take advantage of the preventive services and quickly discover potential precancerous lesions. “This month serves to strengthen the motivation to participate,” explains the gastroenterologist.

People with an increased risk of colon cancer need early detection

The speakers at the opening symposium agreed that people who have an increased risk of colon cancer in particular need to be reached. This includes not only older people, but also younger people, warns cancer researcher Andreas Neubauer.

As current data shows, more and more young patients in Western countries have been suffering from this type of cancer for years. The reasons for this are family or individual in nature, but can also be attributed to unfavorable behavior. According to new studies, the consumption of alcohol can increase the risk of colon cancer – without there being a family history. People who suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes are also susceptible to colon cancer.

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Approaching general practitioners’ practices, sending out stool tests

How can mobilization for early colon cancer detection be successful? On the one hand, by speaking to general practitioners. There, doctors should also regularly ask their patients about their family history as part of their health examination.

The Increase participation rates, reports the Barmer health insurance company at the symposium.

“It’s about risk-adapted precautions”

Last but not least, a rethinking of early detection is also necessary. “It’s no longer about precautions for everyone, but rather about risk-adapted precautions,” says Neubauer.

This is tailored to the personal risk of cancer and offers opportunities compared to conventional early detection, explains Sabine Dittmar, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health.

As part of risk-adjusted prevention, for example, in the case of hereditary cancer, family members who are already sick can be genetically tested. If a genetic cause of cancer is discovered, relatives can also undergo genetic testing to predict cancer. “The reliable exclusion of genetic changes that occur in families not only saves examinations, but also a lot of worries.” Risk-adapted early detection is currently the subject of research and funding programs.

“No cancer is more preventable than colon cancer.”

Ultimately, presenter Nina Ruge also advocates not letting early colon cancer detection slide. She herself is setting a good example: During a colonoscopy as part of the preventive procedure, certain intestinal polyps were discovered – precancerous lesions. These were removed within a total of three colonoscopies.

“No cancer is more preventable than colon cancer. We need all of you to stop deaths from colon cancer from increasing again,” she says. By making the stool test “sexy”, developing diagnostics 2.0, and using new blood tests that quickly detect various markers, it could be possible to sensitize more people to preventative care.

“Everything will be fine. But not by itself.”

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Tips for preventing colon cancer

We can influence many risk factors for colon cancer ourselves. The cancer information service of the German Cancer Research Center advises:

Exercise regularly to avoid becoming overweight. Get enough fiber, for example from grain products, legumes and vegetables. Eat little red meat and processed meat products such as sausage. Do not smoke. Drink alcohol only in moderation.

The experts emphasize that neither acetylsalicylic acid, i.e. aspirin, nor vitamin or mineral tablets are suitable for preventing colon cancer.

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