Jump in colon cancer cases in Hyderabad leaves doctors | Hyderabad News

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HYDERABAD: A spike in colon cancer cases in Hyderabad over the past couple of years has left oncologists worried. Not only are they seeing more cases, they are also seeing increased incidence among the young.
While the largest tertiary care centre for cancer – the MNJ Institute of Oncology Regional Cancer Centre – has recorded double the number of colon cancer cases in 2020, other hospitals too are seeing increased numbers.
Making matters worse is the fact that many patients ignore their condition and come to a doctor only in the advanced stage. This has led to experts recommending regular screening for the disease after the age of 35.
At MNJ, the numbers have gone up from 101 cases in 2017 to 200 in 2020. At least two other institutes have recorded over 200 cases each during the year.
“We saw three cases of 35-year-olds with colon cancer last month, indicating that the young are not being spared,” says Dr N Jayalatha, director of MNJ. “While the exact cause for the cancer is unknown, a combination of factors like excessively consuming spicy and outside food, consuming tinned food and beverages, excessive consumption of red meat, alcohol and the presence of pesticide residue in agriculture produce are responsible.”
Heredity plays a part too. “While people above 35 should check for occult blood and, if possible, undergo colonoscopy every two years, those having colon cancer in the family should start tests at 30,” adds Dr Jayalatha.
“This was not a common cancer a few years ago, but it has now moved into the 6th or 7th position among cancers,” says Dr G Sadashivudu, head of department of medical oncology, Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS). The institute has recorded nearly 200 cases each year from 2017. In 2020, NIMS saw only 75 cases, but doctors suspect many may have not turned up because of the pandemic.
Besides unhealthy food habits, taking meals at the wrong time may play a role in people getting affected, explains Dr Krishna Mohan, medical oncologist at Basavatarkam Indo American Cancer Hospital.
“Not taking food on time could lead to slower bowel movement and constipation, which in turn gives a chance to microorganisms in the large intestine to show their effect. More of animal fat in food, especially red meat – pork, beef and mutton – is a cause,” he says, adding that a large chunk of these patients are overweight.
“Basic research at our centre has shown that as compared to a decade ago when these cancers were caused by infections, they are now driven by lifestyle. The incidence is slightly higher among females, especially in cities,” says Dr G V Rao, director and chief of surgical gastro, GI oncology and minimally invasive surgery at AIG Hospitals.
“Genetic factors are certainly one of the non-modifiable risk factors in certain cancers including colon cancers. These genetic predisposed cancers tend to occur in the lower age group and within first degree relatives. Age is another non-modifiable risk factor. As a person ages, genetic defects become less amenable to correction and repair by the body and thus cause cancers,” says Geeta Nagasree, consultant surgical oncologist at Care Hospitals.

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