Colorectal cancer (CRC), commonly known as colon cancer or bowel cancer, is a cancer from uncontrolled cell growth in the colon or rectum (parts of the large intestine), or in the appendix.
Colorectal cancer starts in the digestive system. It usually starts as polyps, which are abnormal growths in the inner lining of the colon or the rectum. Colorectal cancer symptoms are rare in the early stages,
but when they occur, the following maybe experienced: rectal bleeding, prolonged diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain, and body weakness.
Statistics on colorectal cancer show that it is among the top five most common cancers in the Philippines today with approximately 5, 787 new cases in 2010. It is the 4th lead cause of cancer deaths in the country.
In observance of colon cancer awareness in March, the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology (PSMO), PhilHealth, and Merck Serono have banded together in organizing “Join our Bowel Movement,” a press
conference held over the weekend in Makati City with talks by the country’s top colorectal cancer experts and advocates.
Lectures by Dr. Felycette Gay Lapus, PSMO president; Dr. Ellie May B. Villegas, PSMO vice president; Dr. Ramy Roxas, ASEAN society of Colorectal Surgeons president and TMC Colorectal Clinic director;
Merla Rose D. Reyes, RPh., PhilHealth Senior Social Insurance Specialist; and Prof. Diena Oroceo, CRC survivor were held on topics ranging from CRC treatment and diagnosis up to a CRC Survivor’s chronicle.
Most people who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer average 60 years of age. Since it takes 10 years for a polyp to become a cancer, PSMO strongly encourages every Filipino to get a screening once they reach the age of 50 to detect possible polyps in their early stages. Blood examination or fecal occult blood, another way for screening aside from colonoscopy, costs only P200 to P400 a year.
PhilHealth, through its insurance specialist, Merla Rose Reyes, assured the media representatives blood examination and colonoscopy procedures are now being covered by the agency for its members.
Like most other diseases, prevention and early intervention is always the best cure. Merck Serono has come up with KRAS (Kirsten Rat Sarcoma Viral Oncogene Homology) biomarker, the first biomarker in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer which helps determine the appropriate anti-cancer therapy suitable for the patient.
The KRAS determines the specific subtypes of CRC which will indicate the most suitable and effective targeted treatment for the patient. The majority of patients with CRC are in the KRAS Wild type (65
percent) while Mutant KRAS is found in 35 percent of cases.
Having the tumors screened for KRAS mutations after diagnosis of CRC is recommended before any treatment is done.
This guides the doctor in determining the most suitable anti-cancer therapy for the patient, sparing him or her from unnecessary costs and side-effects, according to PSMO Drs. Lapus, Villegas and Roxas.