“In recent years for colorectal cancer there has been a significant increase in the incidence among the youngest, so much so that the age of screening has decreased, passing from 50 to 45 years”, explains Bruno Annibale, president of the Italian Society of Gastroenterology and Digestive Endoscopy (Sige)on the occasion of the World Digestive Health Day which, promoted by the World Organization of Gastroenterology, is celebrated on 29 May. This year’s edition is dedicated in particular to the prevention of colorectal cancer through the dissemination of good practices relating to lifestyle and nutrition.
The colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in the world and the first, by incidence, in the digestive tract, occurs earlier and earlier. “In the last 20 years – reads a Sige note – the disease has seen an increase in cases in the population aged between 20 and 49, particularly in the United States and Northern Europe. Recent data tell us of an annual increase of 5% in the Scandinavian populations, in England, but also in other areas such as France ”.
The intestine plays a vital role, since it forms an important part of the immune system. Disease prevention is achieved with an adequate lifestyle and with a very simple screening test, the search for fecal blood. When the test is positive, a colonoscopy is performed and, through the removal of polyps or the identification of a malignant tumor, but at an early stage, it is possible to effectively reduce mortality.
Screening is an irreplaceable preventive weapon in fighting colorectal cancer and that is why health organizations around the world recommend bringing the exam to 45 years earlier. In most cases, cancer develops from adenomatous polyps, visible by colonoscopy, which can evolve malignantly in about 10-15 years. In fact, for a long time it remains asymptomatic, but, thanks to the screening programs, an early diagnosis is possible so that it can be prevented and treated.
“In Italy – underlines Annibale – we have an important public health problem because unfortunately there is still one low adherence to screening, with a large difference between north and central south. An important disparity for which many southern regions are far behind ”. The Covid-19 pandemic has curtailed screening programs and created a backlog of endoscopic procedures around the world. According to research presented at the European Congress of Gastroenterology Ueg Week 2021, colorectal cancer diagnoses dropped dramatically by 40% over a year, inevitably leading to a significant increase in the number of diagnoses in patients with advanced disease and a worsening of the outlook for treatment.
Among the reasons for the early development of colorectal cancer are wrong lifestyles such as obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyle and inadequate diet. Nutrition is in fact an aspect strictly correlated with diseases of the digestive system and of particular relevance both for the physiopathological and clinical implications and for the consequences on patients suffering from metabolic, chronic inflammatory and neoplastic pathologies.
Precisely for this reason, SIGE has placed the national course (Verona 27-29 October 2022) at the center of its training projects, dedicated to specialists, especially the youngest, on the themes of clinical nutrition. The training event, in addition to providing an updated overview of nutritional problems relating to the main diseases of the digestive system and their diagnostic-therapeutic management, will provide the appropriate working tools for an integrated clinical approach. Nutrition, in fact, plays an increasingly important role not only in the prevention, but also in the treatment of many conditions and, on the other hand, the nutritional status is able to influence the prognosis and the quality of life of patients.
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