Large bowel cancer, or colo-rectal cancer, is the second cause of cancer-related death in Belgium in both men and women, pointed out the Cancer Foundation in a statement given on Thursday during the international “Month against Colo-rectal Cancer”. Although this type of cancer is particularly lethal when it gets to an advanced stage, it is actually relatively easy to spot. Throughout the month of March the Cancer Foundation and its eight partners will be raising awareness via various events and actions with one aim: encourage people to get tested. With over 8,500 new cases detected each year, colo-rectal cancer is one of the most deadly, resulting in nine deaths each day. “90% of cancers of the colon, however, can be cured if they are spotted in time,” said the foundation, which adds that if found early, treatment is generally less invasive and has less impact on the patient’s quality of life.
“Both communities have implemented systematic screening programs to reduce deaths due to colo-rectal cancer,” said Dr. Anne Boucquiau. “Patients are screened via a “faecal occult blood test” (blood not visible to the naked eye). This test is safe, effective and free.”
In the Wallonia-Brussels federation people aged between 50 and 74 are invited to collect the test from their doctors’ surgery every two years. The test can then be carried out at home. In Flanders, 56 to 74-year-olds get the test directly by mail.
The foundation also highlights the increasing number of cases in recent years. Over the past four years, the Cancer Registry has recorded an increase of over 5%. In 2012, 4,737 new cases of colo-rectal cancer were detected in men and 3,879 in women, compared to 4,486 and 3,689 in 2008.
On March 16th the Cancer Foundation will launch a new educational tool, a giant colon, with the help of Walloon Health Minister Maxime Prévot and Cecile Jodogne, Secretary of State for Health Policy in the Brussels Region.