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Colorectal cancer prevention programme
Here at DKV, we stand for promoting good health
What is bowel cancer?
It is a malignant tumor, also known as cancer or neoplasia, coming from cells in the mucous membrane of the large intestine. It almost always comes from a growth known as a polyp. It can develop locally, deeply invading the layers that form the wall of the digestive tract, and from there move into any organ, whether in the abdominal region or further away, spreading through the lymph vessels or through the blood.
It is the most common type of cancer in Spain, if you combine men and women (it's the second most frequent among women, after breast cancer, and the third most common among men, after prostate cancer and lung cancer), with around 30,000 new cases per year. In Spain, survival after 5 years is 64%, and the European average is 57%. It is practically nonexistent before the age of 40-45, but becomes substantially more prevalent after the age of 60. If affects 1 in 20 men and 1 in 30 women before the age of 74.
Bowel cancer is one of the few types of cancer that can be diagnosed in advance, i.e. before its symptoms appear. In most cases, it develops from small lesions inside the large intestine (polyps), which can bleed intermittently without causing any irritation. For this reason, it is detected via a faecal occult blood test, which can be carried out at home using a very simple kit. The test does not need to be taken on an empty stomach, nor does it require any kind of dietary change.
Analyses within health centres allow for the detection of small quantities of blood within stools, which may not be visible to the naked eye. If no blood is detected in the test, bowel cancer is unlikely. In five of each one hundred people appear indications of blood, almost always because of a benign injury and in few cases as a result of the existence of a cancer. To find out where the bleeding is coming from, it's advisable to take a colonoscopy, which explores the inside of the intestine, under sedation, with a low risk of complications.