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Early detection key to avoiding colon cancer

Dr. Pangilinan and Dr. Cua recommend that everyone aged 45 and above — with or without symptoms of colon cancer — undergo colonoscopies.

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Abdominal pain is one of the usual symptoms of colon cancer. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTEY OF ST. LUKE’S

Colon cancer comes from unchecked growths in the large intestine. These growths, also known as polyps, are capable of becoming malignant tumors that obstruct the pathway of the colon, preventing them from functioning properly.

“The colon is like a tube, so if there’s growth in the tube, it will create an obstruction. So that means your waste will not be able to pass through,” said Dr. John Arnel Pangilinan, head of the Institute of Digestive and Liver Diseases of St. Luke’s Medical Center-Quezon City. “In that sense, it will affect your whole digestive tract, so that means you will not be able to eat.”

Not only is this disease deadly, it is one of the most common forms of cancer in the Philippines. It ranks behind breast and lung cancer, comprising 11.3 percent of all cases recorded in the country in 2020, according to the Global Cancer Observatory. Symptoms of the disease include blood in the stool, unexplained weight loss and abdominal pain.

There are many ways to screen yourself for any sign of colon cancer. Colonoscopy is among the options available at St. Luke’s.

“Getting regular colonoscopies ensures your doctors can find and remove any polyps or early signs of cancer before it worsens. Removing any polyps before they have a chance to turn into cancer eliminates your risk of colon cancer,” said Dr. Ian Homer Cua, head of the Institute of Digestive and Liver Diseases of St. Luke’s Medical Center-Global City.

Dr. Pangilinan and Dr. Cua recommend that everyone aged 45 and above — with or without symptoms of colon cancer — undergo colonoscopies.

St. Luke’s offers a Wellness Colonoscopy Package that entrusts patient’s health to a roster of world-class experts at competitive pricing. The package includes basic colonoscopy, doctor’s professional fees and outpatient Covid-19 RT-PCR test.

St. Luke’s strictly enforces protocols such as well-placed sanitation stations and staff members being regularly tested.

Delaying colonoscopies can be costly to one’s long-term health, according to Dr. Pangilinan.

“We cannot delay screening colonoscopies for a long time. We were thinking that we could see the results of this delay years into the future,” Dr. Pangilinan said. “That delay, we might be seeing bigger polyps in the future or maybe even cancers.”

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