Gastroenterology | Colorectal Cancer

The Silent Epidemic: Colorectal Cancer

Let’s look at some USA death statistics and view it in perspective?


Nearly 3000 people died in the horrific 9-11 attacks. Over a period of 9 years during the war in Iraq, just over 33000 American soldiers died. Every year 50 000 Americans die due to Colorectal cancer!


A cancerous polyp in the colon


Colorectal cancer can be prevented by removing precancerous polyps (abnormal growths), which can be present in the colon for as many as 10 years before invasive cancer develops.


When colorectal cancer is found early and treated, the 5-year relative survival rate is 90%. Because screening rates are low, less than 40% of colorectal cancers are found early.


One U.S. clinical trial reported a 33% reduction in colorectal cancer deaths and a 20% reduction in colorectal cancer incidence among people offered an annual fecal occult blood test (FOBT).



*The digestive system includes the 7.5m long tube that processes food and nutrients as well as the liver, pancreas, gallbladder. These organs break down and absorb the food we eat so that the nutrients can be transported into the bloodstream and delivered to cells throughout the body.


In Module 5, I would like to take you on a trip inside the human body. We will take a tour right inside the colon to examine and inspect the colon for abnormalities.


Download Module 5 in PDF-Format


Definitions and principles to remember:

  • Colon: The colon, or large intestine, is a long, hollow tube at the end of the digestive tract which is located in the abdomen. It acts as a waste processor, taking digested food in the form of solid waste and pushing it out of the body through the rectum and anus.
  • Colorectal: Pertaining to both the colon and the rectum
  • Colorectal Cancer: This type of cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow in the lining of the large intestine (colon) or rectum.  Not including skin cancer, colorectal cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and women and the second highest cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. It is highly curable when found early.
  • Polyp:  A polyp is an extra piece of tissue that grows inside your body. Colonic polyps grow in the large intestine, or colon. Most polyps are not dangerous. However, some polyps may turn into cancer or already be cancer. To be safe, doctors remove polyps and test them. Polyps can be removed when a doctor examines the inside of the large intestine during a colonoscopy.
  • Grading and Staging of Cancer:  The stage of a cancer is a measure of how much the cancer has grown and spread. Some cancers are also graded by looking at features of the cancer cells, using a microscope or other tests. The stage and grade of a cancer help to say how advanced it is, and how well it may respond to treatment. The general rule is – the earlier the stage and/or the lower the grade of a cancer, the better the outlook (prognosis).

Club facilitators/leaders – kindly study the information on this website:

[Click Here]


The following slideshow offer a lot more information:

View Slideshow on Colon Cancer


Watch the video showing a lecture of how a virtual colonoscopy works:

[Download Link only available to Apprentice Doctor Club Leaders and Facilitators]

With kind permission – Siemens Medical

Practical Applications:

Choose some of the following practical projects to do in the Apprentice Doctor Course:






Colon Therapy

There is a belief that the colon is full of accumulated toxins and waste products that needs to be removed by periodic colon cleansing – is it true?


Colon cleansing (also known as colon therapy/colon lavage/colon hydrotherapy/ colonic irrigation) includes a number of alternative medical therapies intended to remove feces (contents of the colon) and “nonspecific toxins” from the colon. Some forms of colon hydrotherapy use tubes to inject water, sometimes mixed with herbs or with other liquids, into the colon via the anus/rectum using special equipment.


There is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the alleged benefits of colon cleansing.  The bowel itself is not dirty or toxic and with the exception of drugs, disease or mechanical blockage, cleanses itself naturally without assistance. Colon cleansing may even be dangerous – and can cause infection or damage to the bowel!


Career opportunities

Quite a number of medical professionals are making a living out of treating problems associated with the *digestive system – let’s name a few:


The Dietician – A dietitian is someone who has studied the science of nutrition and applies it to the feeding of individuals and/or groups – in order to improve their health and minimize disease.


The Dentist – and all the modern dental specialties like the orthodontist, the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, the Prosthodontist etc. specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions of the oral cavity, the teeth, jaws and surrounding tissue.


The Otolaryngologist or ENT (Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon), specializes in the throat or pharynx, the larynx (voice box) and of course the nasal passages, the ear and associated organs.


General Surgeons treat a lot of conditions affecting the section of the digestive system between the entrance of the esophagus, the stomach, small and large intestine up to the anus including the accessory digestive glands like the liver and pancreas. Some General Surgeons specialize in conditions affecting the rectum and anus – and they are called proctologists.

The Gastroenterologist: A Gastroenterologist is a physician (internist) who specializes in the digestive system. They assess and treat various problems associated with the gastrointestinal system using a variety of therapies, medication as well as minor surgical interventional procedures.

How Can I Become a Specialist General Surgeon?


How to become a Gastroenterologist:

Follow this link:

In Module 6 – The Musculoskeletal System – you will learn more about:

  • How the Musculoskeletal system works
  • See how an Orthopedic Surgeon performs a knee- and a hip replacement surgery
  • Information on how to become an orthopedic surgeon

Other interesting careers in the field of the musculoskeletal system – and more!


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Best wishes for your success!

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