Every year about 4’400 people in Switzerland are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 1’650 die of it.
In 2018, around 1’850’000 new cases of colorectal cancer were registered worldwide and more than 880’000 patients died of it.
Colorectal cancer occurs mainly in adults over 50 years. The disease ratio of men to women is 4:3.
Most often, bowel cancer develops from benign growths of the mucous membrane on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. These growths are called polyps. Some types of polyps can change into cancer over time (usually many years), but not all polyps become cancer.
Colorectal carcinomas grow slowly. Over a long period of time they do not cause any problems. Once they reach a certain size, they may cause one or more of these symptoms:
Many of these symptoms can also be caused by other diseases, such as infections, hemorrhoids or irritable bowel syndrome. However, they should be checked by a doctor.
Researchers have found several factors that can increase the risk of bowel polyps or bowel cancer. Some of these are linked to personal lifestyle and therefore could often be avoided or at least reduced:
Risk factors that can be influenced:
Risk factors that cannot be influenced:
In the following cases there is an increased risk of bowel cancer:
People who are at one or more of these risks may develop bowel cancer at a younger age.
There is no sure way to prevent bowel cancer. But a healthy lifestyle might help reduce the risk:
If bowel cancer is detected at an early stage, it is curable in most cases. That is why screening is so important. The "blood-in-the-chest" test and colonoscopy are two proven methods of detecting bowel cancer and its precursors.
Blood in stool test
The "blood in stool test" can be carried out independently at home. It is available from your doctor or pharmacy. The test detects even invisible traces of blood in the stool, which can be caused by bowel cancer or possible precursors of a bowel disease, the polyps. The reliability of the test is good if it is done every two years.
Colonoscopy is a very reliable method of detecting bowel cancer. It involves a specialist examining the inside of the bowel with a flexible tube and a small camera. This camera transmits the images of the bowel directly to a monitor. In this way a tumor can be detected with a high degree of probability and possible polyps can be removed directly. The examination takes about 20 to 30 minutes and is usually painless.