Early detection and treatment of colorectal cancer

1. Relevance of early detection

The American Cancer Society Guidelines for Colorectal Cancer Screening assert that colorectal cancer screening should begin at the age of 45. The National Cancer Center Japan has established guidelines for screening of colorectal cancer for all individuals over the age of 40. If colorectal cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the 5-year relative survival rate, the rate of the patients who survive 5 years after being diagnosed with cancer, can be as high as 90%. However, unfortunately, only about 40% of all colorectal cancer cases get diagnosed before it progresses to the late stage. Therefore, early detection is important for colorectal cancer. The most common method for colorectal cancer detection is fecal occult blood test (FOBT), but in some countries and regions, colonoscopy is performed.

The test method and the screening system for the detection of colorectal cancer vary among the countries/regions.

2. Main treatment methods for colorectal cancer

Endoscopy can also be used for the treatment of early stage localized cancers. As there is no need for open abdomen surgery in endoscopic treatment, the physical burden on the patients is reduced. Other commonly used modes of treatment include surgery, chemotherapy, molecular targeted therapy, radiation therapy, and immune therapy (to target the immune system), most of which are used in advanced cancers. The earlier the cancer is detected, the greater is the possibility for early treatment; therefore, early detection is very important for colorectal cancer.

This column has been prepared under the supervision of a physician for the purpose of providing general information on cancer.
It is not a substitute for the advice and services that should be provided by a physician or other healthcare professional. If you notice any health conditions, please consult your family doctor or a specialist.

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