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25 MARCH 2018 HEALTHCARE INNOVATIONS


younger age groups — those aged 20-39 — in the past few years. Three in 10 rectal cancer (in lower part of the bowel) diagnoses are now in patients aged under 55.


ALWAYS SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE The message to take home is that any gut symptom needs evaluation if it persists; no matter how young or old you are. If you have concerning symptoms, whatever your age, take control and see your GP for advice. Only a minority will require referral or inves- tigation, but this may be life-saving.


FAMILY MATTERS It’s important to know and share your family history. This includes any cancer diagnoses, such as breast, ovarian and stomach cancer as well as colorectal cancer. Knowledge of affect- ed family members allows you to be proactive about your health.


ARE YOU AT HIGHER-THAN-AVERAGE RISK OF CRC? Some conditions greatly increase the risk of colorectal cancer. 1. Hereditary


nonpolyposis colon cancer


(HNPCC, also called Lynch syndrome) — affects one in 300 people. It’s an inherit- ed condition with increased risk of colorec- tal cancer, occurring at younger ages. It ac- counts for one in 30 cases of colorectal cancer. It also increases the risk of other cancers, i.e. uterus, stomach, small bowel, bladder, kidney, brain, ovary and skin. This is un- der-recognised and under-diagnosed in the UK.


2. Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) — rare inherited condition affecting one in 10,000 people. Almost 100% risk of de- veloping colorectal cancer. Most cancers occur up to the age 50.


3. Inflammatory bowel disease — people with Crohn’s colitis and ulcerative colitis have an increased risk of colorectal cancer, espe- cially with inflammation of the entire colon and colitis of more than 10 years’ duration.


CAN I REDUCE MY RISK OF DEVELOPING CRC? The answer is yes. To do so: • Eat less red and processed meats, and in- crease your intake of green leafy and dark yellow vegetables.


• Low-dose aspirin (75mg daily) appears equally effective as some screening tests. However, the benefits have been found to occur only after eight years of use. There’s also a side effect of gut bleeding, so consult your GP.


• Stop smoking. This is the single best thing you can do for your health. Quitting has real benefits.


• Maintain a healthy weight — the second


The second biggest risk for getting cancer is being overweight — there are no less than 11 cancers that are linked to obesity, including colon cancer


biggest risk for getting cancer is being over- weight. There are no less than 11 cancers that are linked to obesity, and colon cancer is one of them.


• Be physically active. Regular exercise lowers the risk of many serious diseases, includ- ing colon cancer. Aim for around 20-30 minutes of moderate activity each day. Brisk walking, dancing, gardening, or even clean- ing the house counts.


• Drink in moderation. In moderation, alcohol is heart-healthy. What does this mean? For moderate drinkers there’s no reason to stop. For teetotallers, there’s no reason to start. Heavy drinkers should cut down.


• Get enough calcium, vitamin D and folate (folic acid or vitamin B9). Evidence shows that getting enough of these vitamins and minerals helps protect against colon cancer.


A REGULAR SCREENING TEST FOR COLON CANCER IS THE SINGLE BEST WAY TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THIS DISEASE There are many effective screening tests for


colon cancer: 1. Stool tests looking for hidden blood, includ- ing fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and fecal immunochemical test (FIT), are used by the BCSP.


2. Flexible sigmoidoscopy — a limited camera examination of only the lower part of the colon. This is currently being rolled-out as part of the BCSP.


3. Virtual colonoscopy — a type of CT scan that creates 3D images of the inside of the colon.


4. Colonoscopy — a flexible camera examina- tion of the full length of the inside of the bowel. Detected polyps can be removed during the test. Most experts would agree that the colonos-


copy is the gold standard screening test. If other tests find anything suspicious, a colo- noscopy is usually needed. The test you have depends on your med-


ical history and personal choices, but any is better than none. Take control of your own health. So, don’t be afraid to ask, and get screened. For more information please visit: bowelcanceruk.org.uk/about-bowel-cancer/ screening/


SPECIALIST CLINICS 17


Meet the expert


Dr Lisa Das is a reputable consultant gastroenterologist at The Royal London Hospital, Bart’s Health NHS Trust, as well as The London Clinic, The BUPA Cromwell Hospital, The London Independent Hospital, The Harley Street Clinic and at Lyca Health, Canary Wharf. Her specialist inter- ests include managing gastrointestinal diseases such as IBS, as well colorectal cancer screening and Lynch syn- drome. She’s a highly experienced and accredited bowel cancer screening endoscopist. Dr Das is also listed as a specialist consultant on Top Doctors (topdoctors.co.uk) and Doctify (doctify.co.uk).


Gastro Endo Health Ltd T: 07906 930 465 E: kirsteenparker@gastro-endoscopy.com thelondonclinic.co.uk


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