* Eat a diet low in fat and high in fibre and vegetables.
* Avoid charring or heavy browning of meat, poultry and fish.
* Restrict alcohol consumption.
* Ensure adequate intake of calcium rich foods.
* Increase physical activity.
* Avoid obesity.
* Do not smoke
Recent studies examining the effect of aspirin in the prevention of stroke and heart attack have also shown a reduction in the incidence of colorectal cancer. While the use of aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may prove to be useful in the prevention of colorectal cancer, their routine use cannot yet be recommended due to increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. Therefore dosage and balance between risk and benefit must first be determined.
Screening for colorectal cancer can reduce one’s risk of developing colorectal cancer. The type and frequency of screening depends upon the individual’s risk.
It is important to stress that screening is not appropriate for those people who have symptoms. Symptomatic patients should be referred to a specialist for further investigation.
Faecal occult blood test:
Faecal occult blood test (FOBT) is used to detect blood in the faeces (stools). This is a very simple procedure involving the collection of faecal samples at home. The samples are then sent to a laboratory for analysis. Annual testing is recommended. It must be emphasised that this test cannot reveal the presence or absence of a cancer but it alerts the doctor to the existence of a lesion which bleeds and therefore needs further investigation.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a relatively simple procedure that can be utilised in detecting bowel cancer. A lighted tube - a sigmoidoscope - is inserted into the lower part of the bowel to allow the doctor to see the rectum and the last 40-60 centimetres of the colon.
Colonoscopy is the most sensitive and specific method of large bowel examination and should be used as the primary surveillance test in some high risk groups. Colonoscopy offers the additional advantage in that treatment procedures can be undertaken, particularly the removal of an adenoma or tumour. Following the preparation of the bowel and administration of sedation if required, a highly flexible, elongated instrument - a colonoscope - is inserted into the large bowel and gently moved so that the doctor can inspect the entire length of the bowel.
A barium enema involves the insertion of a special fluid through the rectum into the bowel; x-rays of the bowel are then taken. A barium enema can be used in combination with a sigmoidoscopy as an alternative to a colonoscopy.