Tag Archives: Philippine Cancer Society

Why should we worry about colon cancer?

Know more about the illness that cause Mrs. Aquino’s death this morning…

Next to lung and breast cancer, colon cancer is third among the leading causes of death in the country today.

Mrs. Aquino succumbed to colon cancer exactly one year and four months after she was diagnosed with it. She underwent treatment to halt the progression of cancer that would possibly affect her other vital organs. However, the treatment was stopped recently because the therapy was just too strong for her already frail body.

Based on the 2005 Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates, cancer of the colon and rectum combined rank 3rd overall, 3rd among males and 4th among females.

In the Philippines, the overall median survival for colon cancer is 49 months. For cancer of the rectum, it’s 24 months.

The incidence begins to rise steeply at the age of 50 years.

Risk factors and prevention

Major risk factors are personal or family history of colon or rectum cancer, polyps in the colon or rectum, and inflammatory bowel disease. Evidence suggests that a diet high in fat and deficient in whole grains, fruits and vegetables increase the risk.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, particularly a healthy diet, will decrease a person’s risk.

Warning Signals

A change in bowel habits such as recurrent diarrhea and/or constipation, particularly when accompanied by abdominal discomfort; weight loss, unexplained anemia; blood in the stool.

Early Detection

Early colon cancer and rectum cancers are asymptomatic, and there is still no efficient method for population-screening particularly in developing countries. The aim would be earlier diagnosis of symptomatic patients who complain of changes in bowel habits, vague abdominal pains, and unexplained weight loss and/or anemia, particularly among patients who are 50 years old and older, by means of rectal digital examination, proctoscopy, proctosigmoidoscopy, barium enema and colonoscopy.


Early cancers of the colon and rectum are curable by surgery. For small rectal lesions, radiotherapy is just as effective. In certain instances, the adjuvant use of certain drugs and/or radiotherapy can increase survival. For advanced stage, judicious and cost-effective palliative care can offer an acceptable quality of life.

Mrs. Aquino’s last days

Ms Aquino has reportedly decided to forgo further medical intervention after undergoing chemotherapy since last March. She was readmitted to the hospital for loss of appetite. She was said to be given medicine that alleviates pain.

You can also read my post in Barrio Siete.