According to an official at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Qatar and a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women in the country.
Statistics released by the Ministry of Public Health’s Qatar National Cancer Registry indicate that among all male cancers in Qatar in 2015, colorectal cancer was the second most common with 94 new cases reported, followed by leukemia with 65 new cases reported.
Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. Also known as bowel or colon cancer, most colorectal cancers begin as a growth called a polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Polyps are often non-cancerous, but some can develop into cancer.
Commenting on the incidence of colorectal cancer in Qatar, Dr. Mohamed Abunada, Lead Colorectal Surgeon at Hamad Medical Corporation said: “Environmental conditions, family history, and diet are among the major factors that can lead to colorectal disease. The risk can, however, be lowered by avoiding a high-protein diet and fat-rich foods, quitting smoking, and most importantly maintaining an active lifestyle.”
Dr. Abunada went on to explain that colorectal cancer symptoms may not be immediately apparent but can include a change in bowel habits, for example, diarrhea or constipation, a change in stool consistency, rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, persistent abdominal discomfort and belly pain, weakness and fatigue, and unintended weight loss.
“Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in Qatar. To reduce the number of cases in Qatar we are doubling our educational and awareness efforts and highlighting preventive measures. We are also working hard to improve the treatment offered to people diagnosed with the disease by implementing the latest and best surgical techniques,” Dr. Abunada concluded.
National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is held every year in March, and this year the National Center for Cancer Care and Research (NCCCR) is using the occasion to host activities designed to raise public awareness of colorectal cancer. Ms. Catherine Gillespie, Executive Director of Nursing at NCCCR, said: “Activities held at NCCCR during National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month aim to educate the public about the importance of prevention and specifically about limiting their risk of developing a disease such as colorectal cancer by taking steps such as making lifestyle changes and being screened for colorectal cancer regularly. Screenings are particularly important as colorectal cancer can be non-symptomatic and the disease can develop without any early warning signs.”
“Although the cancer services offered at NCCCR are improving at an unprecedented pace, a lot of work remains to be done to increase survival rates even further. A valuable starting point is supporting actions to develop a broader and more consistent understanding of cancer as a disease as well as promoting the importance of prevention and early detection. Preventive health measures can help improve the overall population health and impact how cancer is identified, diagnosed, and treated in the country,” said Ms. Gillespie.