Colorectal cancer (colorectal cancer) is one of the most common cancers in Western society. In Switzerland, it is the second most common malignancy in women and the third most common in men. Each year more than 4,000 people develop colorectal cancer in Switzerland (incidence), of which around 1600 patients / year die (mortality).
Polyps are benign tumours (growths) in the intestinal mucosa, which represent the most common precursor for cancer; over the last 20 years, it is proven that colon polyps can lead to colorectal cancer ("adenoma-carcinoma sequence"). Polyps can occur as single entities or in large numbers, and the shape and size can vary greatly. There are flat spread and elevated polyps as well as those attached to a stalk or branched. Most polyps are found in the rectum. In 95% of cases, polyps are benign. In the remaining 5%, these polyps are known as adenomas; they are not classified as malignant, but can develop malignancy and sooner or later lead to cancer.
The larger the adenoma, the greater the risk of cancer. Therefore, all polyps should be removed and examined for their benign or malignant status. The cause of colon polyps is unclear. In addition to nutritional factors (very high fatty diet) and nicotine consumption, a hereditary predisposition is the main risk factor. Usually, there are no symptoms associated with the presence of polyps. For very large polyps, blood loss and anaemia can occur. In rare cases, changes in bowel habits can present as a symptom.
Polyps rarely arise before the age of 30, with most appearing from the 60 years and onwards. It is recommended to have a colonoscopy from the age of 50 years. This examination is covered by general health insurance (not exempt from the franchise). In special cases (e.g. cancer in the family, inflammatory bowel disease or hereditary intestinal diseases with many polyps (polyposis syndrome)), it is recommended to undergo a colonoscopy earlier; this should be discussed individually with us. If you want to know when you should have a colonoscopy, we recommend contacting us. The colonoscopy is the only examination method that clearly displays polyps and allows for their simultaneous removal, making it the method of choice for colorectal cancer screening. The removal of polyps prevents the occurrence of colon cancer. The risks associated with this examination are very small, and can now be done in a completely painless manner. Nevertheless, it is important prepare well before the colonoscopy because polyps can only be seen in a completely clean colon (see preparation procedure)
Estimate your risk of colon cancer with our questionnaire below: Fragebogen Darmkrebsrisiko herunterladen (.pdf)
Detailed instructions for colonoscopy and the conduct of the examination can be found here: leaflet colonoscopy (link) manual preparation colonoscopy (purgative [bowel clearing] procedure) (link)
Should you have any questions about the colonoscopy or colon cancer, please us contact us or view our FAQs for a colonoscopy FAQ zur Darmspiegelung.