Colon cancer screening is important in seniors

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Bowel cancer is a serious disease that is discovered in approximately 12,000 people in the Netherlands every year. Fortunately, that does not mean that the end has been determined with this diagnosis. If you catch it in time, that is, because 4,500 people die from the disease. Colon cancer screening is especially a must for the elderly. Colon cancer is the most common.

Colon cancer

Colon cancer is a disease whose severity and extent are relatively unknown to many people. But in men it is even number three of the most common cancers. It is even more serious in women, where colon cancer ranks second.

Large bowel examination

Colon cancer can very well be prevented through research, unlike many other cancers. Using endoscopy, a flexible viewer is inserted through the anus and the colon is fully examined. First, however, the patient is laxated and given an IV with painkillers plus sleeping pills. The patient therefore sleeps peacefully during the intestinal examination, which was not possible in the past, but is now possible thanks to the new techniques.

Consequences of the research

During the research, we do not look for cancer, but for its precursors, namely polyps. Polyps come in stalked form (mushrooms) and as a flat swelling. These polyps are excised if found. They are studied under a microscope to make a diagnosis. Persons in whom up to 2 polyps, but no cancer is found, are then examined every 6 years (RKZ Hospital Beverwijk). If more than 3 polyps are found and no cancer, periodic follow-up examination will take place every 3 years. If cancer is found, a process is initiated the same day, after which photos and scans are taken within 2 weeks and treatment is started. Naturally, the sooner treatment is started, the greater the chance of recovery.


There are also options in the case of metastases. For example, the liver can be operated on, the metastases can be destroyed with heat and further metastases can be suppressed through chemotherapy. But unfortunately, metastases mean the end of the story in most cases, provided that life can still be extended with treatment.

Symptoms of colon cancer

In the very beginning there are hardly any complaints. Symptoms that may then occur are:

  • Mucus and/or blood in the stool
  • Anemia
  • Changes in bowel habits that cannot be explained
  • Stomach ache

Risk factors

People with a family history of colon cancer or polyps are at increased risk. Other risk factors:

  • Diabetes
  • Overweight
  • Smoking
  • Eating red meat
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol
  • Being old

Population survey

Colon cancer is most common in people aged around 70. All men and women aged 55 to 75 receive an automatic invitation every two years to participate in a bowel examination. The examination mainly focuses on the presence of blood in the stool. It’s just a matter of sending a little poop in the mail for examination.