Colorectal cancer – the most common cancer in the Balearic Islands, taking into account both sexes – is one of the cancers that can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle or even detected early, for which the Balearic Islands have the Colon and Rectal Cancer Early Detection Programme of the Regional Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs, which is being carried out throughout the islands.
This was pointed out by the Regional Minister of Health and Consumer Affairs, Patricia Gómez, who visited the information table set up by the Spanish Association Against Cancer in Palma to coincide with the celebration of World Colon Cancer Day. The general director of Public Health and Participation, Maria Antònia Font, the head of the programme, Guillem Artigues, the president of the AECC Balears, José Reyes, and the president of the Official College of Pharmacists of the Balearic Islands, Antoni Real, also took part in the dissemination and awareness-raising event.
It should be remembered that 312 people died of colorectal cancer in the Balearic Islands in 2021, making it the second cause of death after lung cancer if women and men are considered together. In the case of surviving cancer, many of the patients have had to face treatment such as chemotherapy or surgery, in addition to the psychological suffering involved in a disease of this severity.
Fortunately, in many cases cancer can be prevented by following the habits and lifestyles listed below:
- Avoid smoking any type of tobacco.
- Do not drink alcohol.
- Follow a complete Mediterranean diet, rich in fibre, increasing the consumption of whole grains (wholemeal and unrefined), fruit and vegetables. Avoid eating red meat (beef, pork, lamb, horse or goat) and processed meat such as sausages, ham and tinned meat.
- Avoid metabolic syndrome: obesity, abdominal obesity and diabetes.
- Be physically active.
- Go to the health centre in case of warning signs and symptoms or if there is a personal history of colorectal polyps or inflammatory diseases, or if there is a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps.
A free, simple and painless test
In terms of early detection, the Conselleria de Salud y Consumo programme is aimed at people between the ages of 50 and 69, who are invited to take the faecal occult blood test. The main objective is to prevent the disease from progressing to a more serious stage.
Thanks to the latest investments in equipment in the digestive services of the island’s hospitals and human resources, the programme is now being carried out throughout the Balearic Islands.
This test, which is free, very simple and painless, detects non-visible blood in the stool that may indicate that the person has a lesion that could be a precursor to cancer. If the result of the faecal occult blood test is negative, you will be invited back in two years. If the result is positive, the person will go to the digestive service of their referral hospital and, in most cases, will undergo a colonoscopy to certify the diagnosis.
For the person to receive the invitation, their health card details must be up to date. Therefore, if a person has changed his or her telephone number or address, he or she should notify his or her health centre.