Almost 50% of colon cancer patients received late diagnoses

Almost 50% of colon cancer patients received late diagnoses
An example of the free colon cancer test sent by the government to Belgians between the ages of 50 and 75. Credit: Sitka Gremmelprez/Belga.

The Belgian Cancer Registry has revealed that 45% of colon cancers are diagnosed late, resulting in a 15% patient survival rate, according to newly published figures. Belgians are being urged to take a free screening test offered by the Federal Government.

Flemish outlet Het Nieuwsblad unveiled these figures on Tuesday, with the NGO "Stop Colon Cancer" attempting to raise further awareness of the affliction before International Colon Cancer in March.

With one in 20 Belgians set to face colon cancer during their lifetime, which is the cause of 3,000 deaths per year in Belgium, the public has been reminded of the importance of early diagnoses. Indeed, patients' survival rate increases to 90%, if the cancer is detected early.

Especially as, according to the Director at Stop Colon Cancer, Luc Colemont, receiving a preventive diagnosis is "literally child's play." He explained that the government provides Belgians between the ages of 50 and 74 with a free colon cancer test by post.

However, the test is not as widely taken as the organisation would like, with their figures showing that only 52.5% of Flemish people had sent their test back. This figure is even lower in Brussels and Wallonia, where it barely reaches 20%.

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Colemont attributed the tests' lack of popularity to multiple factors. Firstly, he explained that many people still hold the long-standing belief that colon cancer is hereditary, even if up to 80% of diagnoses show that this is not the case.

Secondly, the NGO's director stated that there has been a rise in younger people being diagnosed with colon cancer, with over 10% of patients now under the age of 50. Colemont is advocating for the government to "lower the minimum age for the free screening to 45."

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