Cáncer Colorrectal

El cáncer colorrectal es el segundo tipo de cáncer más común en Estados Unidos, y afecta a 140,000 personas cada año, causando 60,000 muertes. Ésta es una cifra asombrosa si se considera que la enfermedad es potencialmente curable cuando se diagnostica en sus primeras etapas.

¿QUIÉN TIENE RIESGO?

Aunque el cáncer colorrectal puede presentarse a cualquier edad, más del 90% de los pacientes tienen más de 40 años; a partir de esa edad, el riesgo se duplica cada diez años. Además de la edad, existen otros factores de alto riesgo, entre ellos, antecedentes FAMILIARES de cáncer colorrectal y pólipos, y antecedentes PERSONALES de colitis ulcerosa, pólipos en el colon o cáncer en otros órganos, especialmente cáncer de mama o de útero.

¿COMO EMPIEZA?

Existe un consenso general de que todos los cánceres de colon y recto empiezan con pólipos benignos. Estos tumores premalignos se presentan en las paredes del intestino y pueden aumentar de tamaño y volverse cancerosos con el tiempo. La extirpación de pólipos benignos es un aspecto de la medicina preventiva que da buenos resultados verdaderamente.

¿CUÁLES SON LOS SINTOMAS?

Los síntomas más comunes son hemorragia rectal y cambios en la defecación, tales como estreñimiento y diarrea. (Estos síntomas son comunes también en otras enfermedades; por eso, es importante realizarse un examen completo cuando se presentan.) El dolor abdominal y la pérdida de peso son normalmente síntomas posteriores que indican la posible extensión de la enfermedad.

Lamentablemente, muchos pólipos y cánceres incipientes no causan síntomas. Por lo tanto, es importante que, después de los 50 años, su reconocimiento médico de rutina incluya procedimientos para la detección del cáncer colorrectal. Existen varios métodos para detectarlo. Éstos incluyen el examen de tacto rectal, una prueba química para detectar sangre en heces, sigmoidoscopia y colonoscopia (instrumentos tubulares con luz que se usan para examinar la parte inferior del intestino) y el enema de bario. Recuerde hablar de estas opciones con el cirujano para determinar el mejor procedimiento para usted. Las personas que tienen un pariente de primer grado (padre, madre, hermano o hermana) que tenga cáncer de colon o pólipos deben empezar a realizarse exámenes de detección del cáncer de colon a los 40 años.

¿CÓMO SE TRATA EL CÁNCER COLORRECTAL?

Para una curación total, casi todos los casos de cáncer colorrectal requieren cirugía. Además de la cirugía, a veces se usa la radiación y la quimioterapia. Si el cáncer se detecta y trata en sus primeras etapas, entre el 80 y 90% de los pacientes recupera una salud normal. La tasa de curación disminuye al 50% o menos cuando se diagnostica en etapas posteriores. Gracias a la tecnología moderna, menos del 5% de todos los pacientes de cáncer colorrectal requieren una colostomía, es decir, la formación por cirugia de una apertura artificial excretora en el colon.

¿PUEDE PREVENIRSE EL CÁNCER DE COLON?

El cáncer de colon es prevenible. El paso más importante para prevenir el cáncer de colon es la prueba de detección. Si los resultados de la prueba son anormales, se debe realizar una colonoscopia. Algunas personas prefieren empezar por la colonoscopia como prueba de detección.

La colonoscopia proporciona un examen detallado del intestino. Mediante este examen pueden identificarse y extraerse pólipos.

Aunque no está totalmente comprobado, existen pruebas de que la dieta puede desempeñar una función importante en la prevención del cáncer colorrectal. Hasta donde se sabe, una dieta con contenido alto de fibra y bajo de grasas es la única medida en la alimentación que puede ayudar a prevenir el cáncer colorrectal.

Por último, debe prestarse atención a los cambios en la defecación. Debe consultarse con el médico todo cambio persistente como estreñimiento, diarrea o sangre en las heces.

¿LAS HEMORROIIDES PUEDEN PROVOCAR CÁNCER DE COLON?

No, pero las hemorroides pueden causar síntomas similares a los pólipos o al cáncer de colon. Si usted presenta estos síntomas, debe acudir al médico, preferentemente a un cirujano de colon y recto, para que los examine y evalúe.

AVISO LEGAL

La Asociación Americana de Cirujanos de Colon y Recto está dedicada a asegurar la atención al paciente de alta calidad, al avance de la ciencia, la prevención y el tratamiento de los trastornos y enfermedades del colon, recto y ano.  El propósito de estos folletos es proporcionar información sobre los procesos de enfermedades, y no la de indicar una forma específica de tratamiento. Están diseñados para el uso de  los médicos, trabajadores sanitarios y pacientes que deseen información sobre la gestión de las condiciones tratadas. Estos folletos no incluyen o excluyen otros métodos apropiados de atención médica de estas enfermedades. La última palabra sobre el tratamiento a seguir le corresponde al médico basándose en las circunstancias  de cada paciente.



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