Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine Specialist Dr. Meral Sözen stated that after the decrease in hospital admissions due to the fear of the Kovid-19 pandemic, the chance of treatment in colon cancer, like other cancer types, decreased. While answering Başkent's questions, Sözen drew attention to colon cancer since March is colon cancer awareness month and said, "Colonoscopy should not be avoided due to pandemic concerns. Many experts think that if screening for bowel cancer is delayed, we may encounter advanced cancers more frequently in many societies and cancer-related deaths will increase.” he said.
Colon cancer is known to be one of the most common types of cancer, what can the incidence of colon cancer be attributed to?
Yes, colon cancer is among the top three most common cancers in the world. Although the order of frequency varies in men and women, it is seen that its frequency is gradually increasing in all societies. Genetic causes, lifestyle, dietary habits, obesity and microbial flora play an important role in the formation of colon cancers. Colon cancer is more common in individuals with a family history than in the general population. While the patient does not have any complaints at the beginning of colon cancers, as the disease progresses, symptoms related to iron deficiency anemia such as weakness, fatigue, fatigue, changes in defecation habits due to narrowing of the intestinal wall, intestinal obstruction such as abdominal pain, and rectal bleeding can be seen. Sometimes, cancer can be detected during research in unexplained iron deficiency anemia when the patient has no symptoms.
COLONOSCOPY SAVES LIVES
You draw attention to the importance of colonoscopy in the diagnosis of colon cancer. What can you say about it?
In the detection of the disease, findings related to the disease, as well as blood tests, stool tests and colonoscopic examinations are performed. During stool tests, it is examined whether there is blood in the stool content. When this test is positive, it means that there is a small amount of bleeding from the digestive system and further examination is planned, but a negative test does not prove that it is not cancer. Colonoscopic examinations, on the other hand, are the examination of the intestines by moving through the intestines with the help of a device with a light and camera at the end. If a polyp is detected during this procedure, it is removed with the help of tools. Small pieces, called biopsies, are taken from areas where cancer is suspected.
Can you tell me what is the purpose of colonoscopy?
The purpose of colonoscopy is to examine the intestinal wall. In the formation phase of colon cancers, cancer spread is seen with the wall thickening followed by the formation of polyps and then the growth and spread of these polyps and the passage of cancer cells to the vessel wall. This spread of cancer in the intestine spreads through the blood and lymph, known as the white blood system, and has an effect on the appearance of cancer foci in other organs in the future. In patients with cancer detected in colonoscopy, tomography is requested to examine the spread of the disease. According to the results of these, it is decided which of the options such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy will be applied.
BOTTOM CANCER SCREENING PROGRAMS
Can you give information about bowel cancer screening programs other than colonoscopy?
Intestinal cancer screenings are also very important in the early detection of the disease. Cancer has become preventable by detecting and treating the polyp stage. In our country, both hospitals and cancer screening centers called KETEM have created screening programs and individuals over the age of 50 have been given the opportunity to be screened for colon cancer. In addition, cancer screening is started at an earlier age in individuals with a family history of colon cancer. The earlier the disease is detected, the easier it is to treat. As the disease progresses, the treatment process is prolonged and the possibility of treatment-related side effects increases.
We know that with the Kovid-19 epidemic, people have a desire to stay away from hospitals, what can you tell us about this?
With the Covid-19 epidemic, cancer-related deaths are increasing. Since the cancer screening programs were postponed due to the COVID-19 epidemic, it was predicted that the delays in the detection of colon cancer, advanced stage disease and cancer-related deaths could increase. In a simulation study conducted in Canada, it is predicted that a 6-month interruption in colonoscopic screenings prevents 68,000 colonoscopic screenings from being performed, so 34 thousand patients will die from colon cancer between 2020-2029. Many experts think that if screening for bowel cancer is delayed, we may encounter advanced cancers more frequently in many societies and cancer-related deaths will increase.
MARCH AWARENESS MONTH
• Finally, March is colon cancer awareness month. There was a general negative perception and fear in the society about colonoscopy, is this fear not counting the pandemic?
March has been designated as colon cancer awareness month, and the importance of screening in colon cancer is explained on many platforms during this month. In addition, it is important that patients who have symptoms and are afraid to go to the hospital due to the fear of an epidemic should apply to the hospital and have their tests done. In addition, some of the society had negative perceptions about colonoscopy, but this situation started to break down gradually. Colonoscopy is not a procedure to be feared when it is performed in appropriate preparations and appropriate places. That's why one of the slogans we use most frequently in colon cancer screening has been determined as 'don't be afraid of colonoscopy, be afraid of being late'.