In Hungary, colorectal cancer is the second most common malignant cancer after lung cancer, but it can be detected early and treated effectively through screening.

Less common at a young age

A malignant tumor that starts in the lining of the large intestine (colon) is called colorectal cancer. It develops slowly and is highly curable at an early stage thanks to modern targeted therapies. Hungary has the highest mortality rate from colorectal cancer in the European Union: while fifty years ago there were fifteen cases per 100,000 population, today this number is close to sixty, a fourfold increase in half a century. It is the most common form of cancer among non-smokers, and nearly 5,000 people die from colorectal cancer every year. The number of people affected really increases over the age of 50, and the disease rarely occurs at a young age. Colorectal cancer occurs in equal proportions in both sexes, while colorectal cancer is more common in men.

Ominous symptoms

The presence of so-called colon polyps (i.e. small growths on the lining of the large intestine) increases the risk of developing cancer, but if they are detected and removed early, the risk of developing cancer can be reduced. A proper lifestyle can also contribute to reducing the risk. Researches show that smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and frequent consumption of red and processed meats are all risk factors. This means that if we stop smoking, eat more fruit and vegetables, whole grains and do exercise, we have already done a lot for prevention.

How is the screening carried out?

The poor mortality statistics are largely due to the low uptake of screening.

All men and women aged 50-70 with valid health insurance are entitled to a colonoscopy every two years. In Hungary, screening is a two-step process, the first step of which is the detection of hidden blood in the stool. Minor bleeding causes a discoloration in the stool that is not visible to the eye and can only be detected by laboratory methods. A non-negative result means that there may be hidden blood in the stool, so further tests, such as a colonoscopy, are needed to find out the cause of the bleeding. Participation in colonoscopies is unfortunately very low because of the potential pain and discomfort. As colon cancer develops slowly, sometimes over 10-15 years, it is sufficient to have a colonoscopy every 10 years.

At HR-Pharma’s laboratory, there are two ways to determine the presence of hidden stool blood. The so-called qualitative determination is done with a rapid test that detects only the presence of human hemoglobin in the stool sample. The result of the rapid test can be positive or negative. Stool blood is measured using a modern automated device that accurately measures the amount of blood in the feces in ug/g.