Changes in bowel habits, recurrent constipation, abdominal discomfort could be early signs of colorectal cancer, says Dr Mohinish Chhabra



22 March 2024


Colorectal cancer is the fifth leading cancer in India and claims several lives every year. Even though the disease is easily preventable, awareness about it continues to be extremely low. To sensitize the masses on colon cancer, its risk factors, symptoms and prevention, March is recognized as the Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month every year. Dr Mohinish Chhabra, Director, Gastroenterology, Fortis Hospital Mohali, through an advisory sheds light on the same.

What is colon cancer?
Statingthat colon cancer affects the large intestine including the colon and rectum, Dr Chhabra, added, “Colon cancer starts in a benign growth – a polyp that arises in the innermost layer of the colon called the mucosa. Polyps that turn into cancer called adenomas and removal of these polyps can help prevent development of colorectal cancer.”

Warning signs
Discussing that colorectal cancer usually had no symptoms, Dr Chhabra, added, “Any recent changes in bowel habits, constipation, rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, persistent abdominal discomfort, cramps, gas or pain, weakness or fatigue and a feeling that the bowel doesn’t empty, should not be ignored.”

Risk Factors

·       Individuals having a family history of colorectal cancer or adenomas.

·       Those suffering from cancer of the uterus or ovaries before 50 years of age.

·       Patients with inflammatory bowel disease or removal of gall bladder.

·       Consumption of tobacco-related products.

·       Obese individuals and those having less physical activity.

Colorectal cancer is preventable
Stating that colorectal cancer is easily preventable,Dr Chhabra, said, “Colonoscopy is the only procedure that allows both identification and removal of polyps. Removal of these polyps prevents up to 90% of colorectal cancer and with appropriate follow up, the chances of death due to cancer is reduced. Artificial Intelligence assisted colonoscopy which detects polyps/adenomas helps in increasing the detection rate.”

Role of Screening
Screening allows one to detect the disease even when there are no symptoms. ““Screening is of utmost importance as it helps to prevent the cancer at earliest. It can be improved by using computer-aided detection known as Artificial Intelligence-assisted colonoscopy which detects polyps/adenomas. This helps in increasing the detection rate,” he added.


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