Ghana in 2022 recorded between 3,000 to 4,000 cases of colorectal cancer, the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) has said.
Dr Leslie Issa Adam-Zakaria, a Specialist-Surgeon with the Colorectal Unit, KBTH, said the situation was worrying as about 70 per cent of the cases were already in their advanced stages before reported.
Dr Adam-Zakaria disclosed this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Accra.
Colorectal cancer, also known as colon or rectum cancer, is a type of cancer that begins in the large intestine (colon), which typically affects older adults, though it can happen at any age.
The disease, which affects men more than women, is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, third commonest cancer in the world and usually begins as small, noncancerous (benign) clumps of cells called polyps that form on the inside of the colon.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer include persistent change in bowel habits, constipation, rectal bleeding or blood in stool, persistent abdominal discomfort, weakness or fatigue and unexplained weight loss.
Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that almost two million cases of colorectal cancer were recorded in 2022 worldwide.
Dr Adam-Zakaria said the cause of colorectal cancer is unknown, however, old age, family history of cancer, people who ate low-fiber, high-fat diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, alcohol intake, among others increased one’s chances of getting the disease.
He said due to the number of people affected by the disease in the country on a yearly basis, it was important that Ghanaians were aware of it and take the necessary steps to prevent it.
“Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. So, people with an average risk of colon cancer must consider screening if they are above age 45.
“But people with an increased risk, such as those with a family history of colon cancer, should consider screening sooner,” Dr Adam-Zakaria stressed.
He advised people with symptoms of colorectal cancer to report to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, adding that the disease could be cured when detected early.
“Our ability to treat colorectal cases has increased tremendously compared to the past. We can now handle more numbers and have even trained others competently to handle cases, so feel free and report to receive the best of care,” he added.
The Specialist Surgeon also urged the public to eat well, engage in physical activities, stop smoking, and maintain a healthy weight to ensure that they did not contract the disease.