Most cases of colorectal cancer affect people older than 55 years of age. The disease develops from small growths called polyps, inside the intestine. Polyps are common, and may be found in one out of four 55-year-olds. Most polyps do not cause ailments and will never be dangerous. But a few of them may grow and eventually develop into cancer.
Colorectal cancer can be difficult to detect. Symptoms emerge late in the course of the disease and may easily be confused with more trivial conditions. Therefore, it often takes a long time before symptoms become sufficiently worrisome to visit your GP.
More people get colorectal cancer
The incidence of colorectal cancer in Norway has tripled during the past 60 years. Today it is our second most common type of cancer. Only of the prostate affects more people – in spite of being limited to men. More than 4,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are discovered in Norway every year. In fact, Norwegian women are at the top of the world in the number of new cases of colorectal cancer, and Norwegian men are in 9th place.
The health service is becoming increasingly better at treating colorectal cancer. But it is often detected late and 40% will die from the disease within 5 years of diagnosis.
Getting diagnosed early increases the prospects of getting well again. Over 95% of patients who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the earliest phase are alive after 5 years.
Why do so many people get colorectal cancer?
It is not known why Norwegian women are at the top of the world and why the number of new cases of cancer in Norway is still increasing.
For some, heredity will count. If there are several cases of colorectal cancer in close relatives such as parents or siblings, it may be relevant with targeted examination of family members.
However, the vast majority of cases of colorectal cancer occur without any known hereditary cause. It is known that some lifestyle factors increase the risk of this type of cancer. By reducing alcohol consumption, eating healthier and increase your daily physical activity, you may reduce the risk of getting the disease.
Read more about colorectal cancer prevention here