Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Colorectal Cancer Rates Increasing

Previous studies have reported rapid increases in colorectal cancer incidence rates in economically transitioning countries in many parts of the world, likely reflecting changing dietary and physical activity patterns.

The rising trend in incidence and mortality from colorectal cancer is more striking in affluent than in poorer societies and differs substantially among ethnic groups. Although changes in dietary habits and lifestyle are believed to be the reasons underlying the increase, the interaction between these factors and genetic characteristics of the Asian populations might also have a pivotal role.

In Malaysia, it is now emerging as the third commonest cause of cancer in both males and females. The age standardized incidence is estimated at 10.4 per 100 000 population (Second Report of the National Cancer Registry, 2003). Ethnic variation is also observed with the disease being most common amongst the Chinese3.

The average population risk for developing colorectal cancer in Singapore is among the highest in the world. The age-standardised rates (ASR) for men for the period 2002-2006 was 40.2 per 100,000 per year and for women it was 28.8 per 100,000 per year4.

Environmental factors and genetics play varying roles in the aetiology of colorectal cancer. About 80% of colorectal cancers arise sporadically with no evidence of genetic susceptibility. In the remaining cases, genetic factors play a significant role. Hereditary forms of colorectal cancer are distinguished by the presence or absence of polyposis5.

Colon cancer can be prevented. To help protect yourself and your loved ones from the disease, follow these ten colon cancer prevention tips:

1. Go to a doctor if you have any colon cancer symptoms.

2. If you're 50 or older, schedule a colon cancer screening.

3. Eat a balanced diet.

4. Maintain a healthy weight.

5. Maintain an active lifestyle.

6. Consider genetic counseling.

7. Learn your family medical history.

8. Talk to a doctor about your personal medical history.

9. Don't smoke.

10. Reduce radiation exposure.

Details are available at

Malaysian Society of Gastrology and Hepatology website :

Journal References:

1. Sung JJ, Lau JY, Goh KL, Leung WK; Asia Pacific Working Group on Colorectal Cancer. Increasing incidence of colorectal cancer in Asia: implications for screening. Lancet Oncol. 2005 Nov;6(11):871-6.

2. Center MM, Jemal A, Ward E. International trends in colorectal cancer incidence rates. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009 Jun;18(6):1688-94.

3. GCC Lim, Y Halimah (Eds). Second Report of the National Cancer Registry. Cancer Incidence in Malaysia 2003. National Cancer Registry. Kuala Lumpur 2004.

4. K G Yeoh. Screening for Colorectal Cancer – Implementation. Medical Journal of Malaysia, 2009 (Nov); 64(b)

5. Wendy Lim. Hereditary Colorectal Cancer: Cancer Risks, Screeing Strategies and the Establishment of a Hereditary Colon Cancer Registry. Malaysian Society of Gastrology and Hepatology.

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