Republish this article
26th March 2019

Screening helped me detect colorectal cancer at an early stage

Every year, and across the continent, tens of thousands of European citizens older than 50, are invited to participate in a colorectal cancer screening programme. Unfortunately, only in Slovenia, the Netherlands and the Basque country, the vast majority of citizens participate in the programme while in the majority of other countries, the majority of invitations remain unanswered.

Anthony Rossi from Malta was one of those whose life was saved thanks to the screening programme. “Four years ago, I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer which was detected at an early stage and I was operated on successfully. I am now free of cancer. For this, I have to thank the National Health Screening Programme in Malta. A friend of mine encouraged me to do this test, and I am very grateful to him. They were the messengers and I got the message when they explained to me how easy and necessary my participation was.”

Usually, the first step is a faecal immunochemical test (FIT) which is used to detect hidden blood in the stool. The FIT is done at home by taking a small sample from one or more bowel movements. If the results of this test are positive, a colonoscopy is performed in order to verify whether the blood is the result of polyps, cancerous adenomas, or due to other problems not related to cancer.

“The screening results led to a colonoscopy which indicated that I had cancer in my colon. Despite the diagnosis of cancer, I had a positive attitude about the operation, and this helped me to face it with courage. The operation was successful mainly because the cancer was detected at this early stage. It is really a good thing that I live in the Island of Malta where screening of this type exists.”

Every year, 370,000 are diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the European Union, and 170,000 patients of them die. Τhis cancer is one of the most preventable and curable. Many people die because their disease is diagnosed when it’s too late, and this despite the fact that this is a very slow-growing cancer. The cancer can grow for many years without any noticeable symptoms.

“Now I understand the importance of screening programmes and I advocate for them. Colorectal cancer is largely preventable and treatable. That’s why we are here, to share the message that screening saves lives”.

“Once I was fit enough, I launched the Malta Colorectal Cancer Awareness Group. I am also an active committee member in the Patient Advisory Committee (PAC) within Digestive Cancers Europe (DiCE) with the strategic objective to promote greater patient awareness of how they can maintain their health and improving the standards of care across Europe. Together – patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, politicians, the media and the public – we can make the necessary changes.”

For more information about the awareness campaign developed by DiCE visit the Official Campaign Microsite.