Dietary habits are considered to have an effect on the development of colorectal cancer. Heavy use of vegetables and fruit as well as eating fibrous food reduces the risk of developing colon and rectal cancer. Dairy and fish also seem to have a protective effect, while red meat, alcohol and processed meat products increase the risk of illness.
Being overweight and having low physical activity increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Exercise increases bowel function and reduces the amount of time that harmful substances stay in the intestine. Exercise also improves the body’s general defense mechanisms.
Minor exercise and obesity cause metabolic disorders in the body. One of the disorders is the high insulin level in the blood, whereby insulin does not work effectively in the tissues. This creates favorable conditions for the growth of malignant cells an tissues.
Screening aims at finding asymptomatic precursors or early stage cancer. In 2004–2016, screening for colorectal cancer in a research setting was conducted in Finland, covering almost half of the target population. In 2019, screening will be re-launched in voluntary municipalities and later expanded into a national program.
In 2019, men and women aged 60-66 will receive a screening invitation in municipalities that provide screening for colorectal cancer to their residents. They are sent a screening test by mail. The test is to be taken at home and one fecal sample is enough. Once the program has reached its full potential, all 60-74 year olds are invited to screen every two years.
Screening is based on a sample of feces at home. The use of a blood test for screening is based on the fact that the intestinal tumors leak more frequently than the healthy mucosa. Screening based on latent blood secretion in feces has been found in international randomized studies to reduce the mortality of the normal population by 12-33% in colorectal cancer.
World Cancer Research Fund: How diet, nutrition and physical activity affect colorectal cancer risk