10 March 2023
Colorectal cancer is the fifth leading cancer in India and continues to claim several lives every year. Even though the disease is easily preventable, awareness regarding it continues to be extremely low. To sensitize the masses about colon cancer and its prevention, Dr Mohinish Chhabra, Director, Gastroenterology, Fortis Hospital Mohali, during a press conference today elaborated on the first-of-its-kind Colon Cancer Screening Programme launched at Fortis Hospital Mohali. The unique colon screening programme makes use of Artificial Intelligence technology (AI) to detect double the number of polyps/adenomas (pre-cancerous stage).
How does artificial intelligence help detect colon cancer?
Stating that artificial intelligence is the latest technology and helps detect polyps/adenomas in the pre-cancerous stage, Dr Chhabra, said, “Cancer originates in the polyps and it takes about 15 years for the disease to develop completely. Artificial intelligence (AI) helps detect pre-cancerous polyps during colonoscopy. The affected polyps are removed which otherwise could develop into colon cancer. AI is able to detect accurately and the polyps are removed on the same day.”
What is colon cancer?
Dr Chhabra said colon cancer affects the large intestine,colon and rectum. “Colon cancer usually 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.”
What are the symptoms?
Colorectal cancer has no symptoms.However, Dr Chhabra said any recent change in bowel habits, constipation, rectal bleeding or blood in your stool, persistent abdominal discomfort, cramps, gas or pain, weakness or fatigue and a feeling that the bowel doesn’t empty, should not be ignored.
Who are at risk?
Dr Chhabra said this type of cancer affects both men and women with life time risk 1 in 20. Everyone is at risk if they live long enough. Colorectal cancer is most common in people ≥ 45 years of age, which is the most important risk factor. Other factors include individuals with 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. Sometimes, the symptoms appear at a later stage as patients continue to be asymptomatic. “Screening is of utmost importance as it helps to prevent cancer at early stage,” he added.
What is the importance of colorectal cancer screening?
Screening means getting checked even when you have no symptoms. Colonoscopy is the only procedure to both identify and remove 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.
How can polyp/adenomas detection rate be improved?
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.