Ask the Doctor
June 25, 2013

What precautions and investigations should be considered for colon cancer?

Dear Doc,

My brother has been diagnosed with cancer of his colon. He is two years older than I (47). What precautions and investigations should I consider?{{more}}


Dear Andrew,

I am happy to see that you appreciate that there must be some concern about the link between family members and the possibility that lightening can strike twice. Multiple family members can experience the same cancers, due to their equal exposure and indeed by virtue of inheritance.

Colon cancer has a significant family link and therefore it is important that you get reviewed by your doctor with a view to making sure that you don’t have it, and then at intervals, to be sure that the earliest possible sign of it is noticed for earliest possible intervention.

The same way we recommend that men have their prostate, and women their cervix, checked annually, the same way persons with family history of colon cancer are required to have investigations at regular intervals.

Some of the investigations include as simple a procedure as testing the stool for occult blood (blood in the stool that cannot be seen by the naked eyes). Tumours in the intestine can have bruising very early in their development and thus having any evidence of blood, very early can prompt early action.

More advanced and decisive screening includes a colonoscopy, whereby a camera is inserted into the colon and the image is seen on a monitor. This is a very reliable form of investigation that allows for the images to be recorded and thus can be reviewed by other professionals and used for comparison with other images.

Food high in roughage, fruits, whole wheat flour, bran and typical “hard food”, are highly recommended. Avoiding highly processed foods and preventing constipation must always be maintained throughout life.


SVG Cancer Society,

P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.