According to the national coordinator of the Alliance for the prevention of colon cancer, Dr. Antoni Castells, up to 3,600 lives a year could be saved in Spain if the application of programs for the early detection of colon cancer is extended, based on the performance of fecal occult blood tests and colonoscopies.

Colorectal cancer is a "potentially preventable" disease that causes around 13,000 people to die annually in Spain. If detected early, treatment can be started as soon as possible, which significantly increases the cure rate. In addition, colon cancer can be prevented with adequate nutrition, by exercising regularly, and by modifying those habits that are harmful to health, such as alcohol and tobacco consumption. These simple measures would help reduce the mortality caused by this pathology between 30 and 35 percent.

Colon cancer and primary care

Primary care plays a key role in the screening programs of the population at risk, since patients undergo tests that allow the diagnosis of colon cancer in health centers and receive, in addition, advice on these tests.

During the Colon Cancer Prevention Day, celebrated on March 31st, the screening programs carried out in the autonomous communities of the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Catalonia, Valencian Community, Murcia and the Basque Country were presented. The program of the Basque Country stands out for its high rates of citizen participation, which reach 59 percent in the case of fecal occult blood test.

The experts emphasize that the objective of these programs is to include the entire population at risk because, according to Dr. Enrique Quintero, of the Spanish Association of Gastroenterology, screening for colon cancer is very effective from the point of view of cost -benefit and it is recommended that the Government establish a budget for these programs, as is already the case in other European countries.

Early detection is key to treating colon cancer (November 2019).