Dr. Wendy Elizabeth Rosario Medina. Family Medicine, Family Medicine Management General Hospital of the Plaza de la Salud.
The organs of the human body are made up of millions of cells, which divide to form other new cells and replace those that die. When this process is disturbed in a cell, it begins to divide uncontrollably and ends up producing a tumor, which can be benign or malignant.
Tumors that turn out to be malignant are what we call cancer. When these tumors are in the colon or large intestine, we talk about colon cancer. This is currently the third most common type of cancer worldwide and affects men and women equally.
The colon or large intestine is approximately one and a half meters long and is part of the digestive system, which begins in the small intestine and ends in the anus, which although not responsible for digesting food, has important functions, such as water absorption and electrolytes
The colon is made up of several layers of tissue called mucosa. It is in the glands of these mucous membranes where lesions called polyps may appear.
Polyps are benign initially and take between 10 and 15 years to grow. Of these, between 5 and 10% could be maligned. This is the type of injury that we are interested in sifting and preventing in primary care, with the aim of preventing the evolution to colorectal cancer.
The causes for which colon cancer can develop are unknown. Several studies have shown that there are factors that can increase the likelihood of a person developing colon cancer, and this probability is higher in:
• people with a previous personal history of cancer,
• people with a family history of colon or rectal cancer,
• people with long-standing inflammatory bowel disease, or
• people affected by polyps.
On the other hand, there are several risk factors to consider, some modifiable and others not.
Modifiable factors. Among the modifiable factors are smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, high consumption of red meat (beef, pork, lamb or liver), processed meats (hot dogs -hot dogs- and some cold meats), and excessive consumption of alcohol.
The non-modifiable history is a personal and family history of colon cancer and / or polyps, having close relatives (grandparents, parents, siblings) with polyps or cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease of long evolution).
Symptom. There are symptoms of colon cancer, but they can vary depending on the stage you are in and its location within the large intestine. We can find:
• Blood in the stool: it is one of the most frequent symptoms of colon cancer.
• Change in the rate of bowel movements: diarrhea or constipation (often interspersed with each other) occurs in people with a normal previous bowel rhythm.
• Narrower stools: usually because the tumor is narrowing the intestine and does not allow normal passage of stool.
• Feeling of incomplete evacuation: it usually appears in tumors located in the rectum or the final section of the colon.
Published in: Hoy Digital newspaper.