Taiwan’s number one cancer by far is colorectal cancer. Last week during the Formosa Cancer Foundation’s screening event for colorectal cancer it was discovered that nearly 60 percent of people who underwent colonoscopies had polyps, which were eventually removed. It is also worth mentioning that during the event as many as 51 percent of people between the ages of 30 and 39 were found to have polyps, while up to 64 percent of people aged 40 to 49 also had the lumps.
Foundation chief executive officer Lai Gi-ming says that there are five indispensable ways for people to work at preventing colorectal cancer — children, women and men should eat five, seven and nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day respectively, and exercise regularly, control body weight, stay away from cigarette smoke and periodically have medical checkups. Switching to a healthier lifestyle is the only way to diminish the threat of colorectal cancer, Lai says.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Lai says that 14,040 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2010, meaning that approximately every 37 minutes one person in Taiwan was diagnosed with the cancer. Due to the accelerated rate at which people in Taiwan are being diagnosed with the cancer, the foundation held its event for fighting against polyps for a fourth consecutive year, encouraging Taiwanese to be vigilant about getting screened for the cancer.
Among the 4,511 people who registered for last year’s polyp-screening event, Lai says that 701 of them received colonoscopies and 403 were found to have polyps — a discovery rate of 57 percent. Thirteen of those found to have polyps were already in the early stages of colorectal cancer. The survival rate for people with Stage I colorectal cancer is as high as 90 percent, which Lai says shows how important it is to get screened during the early stages.
It usually takes 10 to 15 years for colorectal cancer to go from being a disorder to metastasizing and becoming cancerous tissue, Lai says. Receiving a fecal occult blood test every one to two years can reduce colorectal cancer-related deaths by between 18 and 33 percent, Lai says. An analysis of data from this most recent event shows that only 9 percent of people aged 30 to 39 who were found to have polyps had a family history of colorectal cancer, which means that colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer are significantly related to diet and lifestyle choices, Lai says.
Family history is no longer the sole indicator that a person should undergo early testing for colorectal cancer, Lai says, adding that if you enjoy eating red meat, high-calorie foods and foods with high levels of animal fat, the prescribed age for screening should be earlier than usual.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)