MANILA — The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted the screening for colorectal cancer across the world, a health expert lamented Friday.
According to Dr. Dave Rennel Sebollena of the Philippine Society of Gastroenterology, the drop in screening was estimated up to 90 percent, citing a study published on JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics.
"Colorectal cancer screening is one of the most affected by COVID-19 pandemic," he said in a virtual town hall forum.
Sebollena warned that screening delays of beyond 6 months would result in a significantly higher number of more advanced colorectal cancer cases.
Delays beyond 12 months would increase disease mortality, he added.
Colorectal cancer is a cancer from uncontrolled cell growth in the inner lining of the colon or rectum. It commonly develops from a tumor, an abnormal tissue which can be benign or malignant or from a polyp, a non-cancerous tumor.
In the Philippines, colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer, Sebollena said.
Based on the online database Globocan 2020, there were 17,364 colorectal cancer cases recorded in 2020 for both sexes and all ages.
It is the second most common cause of mortality among patients diagnosed with cancer, Sebollena added.
There were 6,109 deaths due to colon and 2,982 due to rectum, the Globocan 2020 data showed.
Sebollena said the risk of colorectal cancer increases with age, in which majority of individuals affected were aged 50 and above.
"Recently, nao-obserbahan po namin... 'yung trend among younger age group, dumadami na rin po 'yung cases, especially among 40-49," he said.
Other risk factors are alcohol abuse, obesity, excessive intake of processed meats, smoking, history of colorectal cancer in first degree relative, and physical inactivity.
Among the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer are change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation, narrowing of stool caliber, blood in stools and unintended weight loss.
March is national colorectal cancer awareness month in the Philippines.