Protect your employees with a screening for colon cancer

Colon cancer or colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in Belgium. Who is most at risk? What are the causes and symptoms of this disease? And how can you, as an employer, actively participate in the fight against colon cancer?

How high is the risk of colon cancer?

70,468 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2018. This involved colon cancer in 7,860 cases. That 11% makes this disease the fourth most common cancer in Belgium.

The risk of colorectal cancer increases considerably with age. People under 40 rarely get the disease. The number of cases increases sharply from the age of 50 onwards. The disease occurs more frequently in men than in women.

You can find more information and recent figures on colon cancer on the website of the Stichting tegen Kanker.

What are the causes of colon cancer?

The possible causes are still under investigation, but it is certain that heredity plays a major role. An estimated 30% of people with colon cancer have a genetic abnormality inherited from one of their parents. A person is two to three times more at risk if their father or mother also had the disease.

In addition, there are a number risk factors related to lifestyle:

  • Unhealthy diet: excessive alcohol consumption, obesity and excessive consumption of red and especially processed meat.
  • Lack of exercise: physical activity speeds up bowel transit, which reduces the risk of colon cancer.
  • Tobacco: it has been scientifically proven that smokers are at greater risk of colon cancer.

“Lifestyle is of course a personal choice,” says vitality expert Dr Stefan Driesen. “But as an employer, you can contribute to the vitality of your employees. By focusing on healthy food in the company restaurant, encouraging exercise during the break and offering smoking cessation counselling, for example.”

What are the symptoms of colon cancer?

Many symptoms can indicate colon cancer:

  • blood or mucus in the stool
  • irregular bowel movements
  • persistent abdominal pain and cramps
  • false urge to go to the toilet
  • weight loss for no reason
  • anaemia
  • persistent fatigue
  • etc.

But: colon cancer is usually already developing before these symptoms appear. Preventive examination is therefore extremely important for early detection.

As an employer, how can you help protect your employees?

Colon cancer is not the only cancer that poses a risk to the health of your employees. Breast and prostate cancer are also potential risks, especially for people over 50. The Cancer Screening Pack offers your employees voluntary and preventive screening for these three common cancers.

Stefan Driesen: “I cannot emphasise the importance of preventive screening enough. The sooner cancer is detected, the less damage it can cause. Removing a polyp from the colon is a routine procedure. But if it develops into a tumour and spreads, an employee is inevitably out of work for a long time and reintegration becomes much more difficult. Preventive cancer screening is therefore an indispensable part of your Wellbeing policy.”