Colorectal cancer – the third most common form of cancer
Colorectal cancer also known as CRC (CRC), is a form of cancer that results from mutations in the lining of the intestinal mucosa.
The course of the disease is usually slow for several years and begins as a protruding tissue growth, i.e. a polyp, which starts in the mucosa and then spreads to the intestinal cavity. Polyps can be carcinogenic, i.e. can develop into cancer if they are not removed. Eventually, the cancer can break through the intestinal wall and spread to other organs, i.e. metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC).
Third most common cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer after lung and breast cancer and the second deadliest. The cancer impacts both men and women with an even distribution between the sexes. There are differences, however, in location, as slightly more men suffer from rectal cancer and slightly more women get colon cancer. It is mainly the elderly who suffer from CRC, as the majority fall ill after the age of 70. The global incidence (number of new patients diagnosed annually) for this form of CRC is approx. 1,9 million patients per year.
The causes are partly environmental and hereditary
As with most other cancers, there is no known single triggering factor for colorectal cancer. Hereditary factors and dietary composition are believed to impact the risk. For example, smoking and lifestyle choices that cause obesity increase the risk.
High mortality rates
Although the prognosis for colorectal cancer patients has improved over the last decade, the prognosis for survival is poorer in comparison to breast or prostate cancer and globally, colorectal is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths after lung cancer. The prognosis for survival is very good in the event of early diagnosis. Health checks and the screening of blood in the stool can help detect colorectal cancer earlier, which reduces mortality in colorectal cancer. Late-stage patients, where the colorectal cancer has spread to other organs (metastases), have poorer prognosis and significantly higher mortality. Only 10 percent of mCRC patients are alive five years after diagnosis.