Risk factors for rectal cancer include excessive intakes of meat and consumption of grilled or fried foods; a lack of fiber and exercise is also a risk factor. Those with a family history of rectal cancer or of smoking are also at risk. With the expansion of the western diet around the world, rectal cancer, which mostly developed among Westerners in their 50s, is now easily found in both the East and the West. The number of patients is also growing. The cancer shows no symptom in the early stages, but as the cancer grows patients can see stools mixed with blood or narrow stools. As such, symptoms are similar to those of piles and a person who shows symptoms of rectal cancer should seek professional medical care and get a medical checkup.
As the cancer is caused by an unhealthy diet and the lack of exercise, it is very important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly to prevent the cancer. Exercise can increase bowel movements, therefore shortening the stool’s passage time through the intestine. As a result, cancer causing agents in the stool have less time to make contact with mucous membranes in the intestine, thus helps prevent the cancer. Moreover, it is recommended to quit smoking as smokers have a higher death rate from colorectal cancer than non-smokers. This is because smokers are more likely than non-smokers to have polyps in their large intestines.
The large intestine is largely divided into the colon and the rectum. The rectum is the final straight portion of the large intestine and is followed by the anal canal. Rectal cancer develops in the 15cm-long rectum that connects the colon and the anal passage. Both rectal and colorectal cancers are called large intestine cancers.
Korea is famous for its excellent laparoscopic technique for treating patients with rectal cancer. Rectal cancer surgery can be performed with laparotomy or laparoscopy, which does not require an artificial anus. Laparoscopy is a widely used technique for surgical operations. In the case of rectal cancers, however, laparotomy has been considered a safer choice because it is difficult to access to the rectum with laparoscopy.
Recently a medical team, led by Sung-bum Kang at the Bundang Seoul National University Hospital, compared 170 patients who were operated with either laparotomy or laparoscopy. They found that laparoscopy resulted in less pain and had a faster bowel movement recovery compared to laparotomy. In addition, laparoscopic surgery yielded better results in the urinary, gastrointestinal and defecation functions. This research drew global attention when it was introduced in Lancet Oncology, a leading global general medical journal.
Tabolov (aged 44/male), who runs a private business in Khabarovsk, Russia was diagnosed with terminal rectal cancer in May 2011. He received surgery to remove the tumor in his rectum and started anti-cancer treatments right away. With a bright personality and a positive view on life, he believed that he would be cured. However, the cancer came back a few months later. This time he was told by his doctor that he had no chance of recovery. But, he did not give up hope and began to seek other treatments. One day, he was introduced to the Soon Chun Hyang University Hospital Bucheon by the chair of the Association of Korean Residents in Khabarovsk.
He received an overall medical examination in Korea and saw a flash of hope when he was told that his cancer cells did not spread to other organs. He was told that he may even be cured if he responds well to anti-cancer medicine after he receives surgery. He went through a surgical operation in December 2011 and currently receives anti-cancer treatments at the hospital every 2~4 weeks. With his bright and cheerful personality, he goes to Korean markets and haggles over prices in order to buy cheaper items. He treats the medical staff to pajeon (Welsh-onion pancakes) and makgeolli (rice wine) at the Daeboreum (the day of the year’s first full moon) festival that is held at the hospital. Such a joyful life helped him to maintain a normal life without deterioration and without the recurrence of cancer or metastasis.
Recently, he ran into his Russian doctor when the doctor was visiting Korea for training. The doctor asked him, “What are you doing here? You are terminally ill.” He answered by saying, “You told me that I was going to die, but I am alive and well after receiving treatment here.”
At first, other Korean patients misjudged him and thought that he was always angry because of his high-spirited Russian accent. But now they get along just fine, like a family, worrying about each other’s health.
Opened in 2001, the hospital has about 1,000 beds, 300 doctors and 600 nurses. As the hospital is closely located to Incheon International Airport, it is easily accessible to patients from abroad. Coordinators are available for assistance. The hospital runs a medical training program for medical staff from all over the world.
Tel : +82-32-615-6807
Firuza Parikh (aged 56, female), an OB GYN doctor in India, is often called the godmother of the Indian medical field. She was selected as one of 50 influential women in India for her achievement in pioneering artificial insemination and test-tube babies. When she was diagnosed with rectal cancer, her doctor recommended Chilgok Kyungpook National University Medical Center (KNUMC).
The Colorectal Cancer Center of KNUMC performs more than 500 operations on intestinal cancer patients every year with 90% of the surgery done through laparoscopy and robots. As this sophisticated technique came to light, doctors from around the world visit the Center to learn the technique. Parikh’s doctor was one such doctor. Her doctor was impressed to see KNUMC’s sophisticated medical facilities and system so requested the hospital to treat Parikh via e-mail. Parikh even went to Singapore to see the Korean doctor who was on a business trip there.
Mrs. Parikh came to Korea with her entourage on a private plane in early October 2011. She originally only intended to look around the hospital, but decided to receive surgery when she was here. She had a 3-hour surgery on October 16. Two Indian doctors observed the procedure and delivered progress details of the surgery via text messages to India in real time. The surgery went well and Parikh not only had a meal but she also went to a beauty salon just 3 or 4 days after the surgery. She returned to home and sent her appreciations to the Korean doctors.
As an affiliated hospital of the Kyungpook National University Hospital, the Chilgok branch has a famous cancer hospital and a geriatric medical center. The cancer hospital has centers for each type of cancer. Among them, the intestine cancer center is famous for its laparoscopy and robot surgery. A total of 978 operations have been performed in 2011 alone. The hospital treated a patient whose cancer developed in the rectum 3~4 cm from the anus, laparoscopic surgery was performed without removing the anus. Many patients visit this hospital due to its excellent technique.
Tel : +82-53-200-3061 http://eng.knumc.org
The main cause of rectal cancer is excessive intake of animal fat. If you migrated to a country where people prefer a meat diet, the onset rate of rectal cancer goes up regardless of your family medical history. This proves the danger of eating meat. Grilled or fried meat is especially not recommended.
If you have a high risk of developing rectal cancer, a vegetarian diet is ideal for you. If you want to eat meat, braise the meat instead of grilling or frying it and eat it with vegetables and fruits.
The Korean diet came into the spotlight as a diet that is as healthy as the Mediterranean diet. A typical Korean diet consists of steamed rice, kimchi and herbs. Meat is steamed instead of grilled.