The Greek Ministry of Health plans to make a colon cancer self-diagnostic test available to the public for free in June, according to a report aired on public broadcaster ERT.

The report notes that the test, which can reportedly detect blood in the stool of patients, will be provided to all citizens between the ages of 50-70 free of charge by the Greek government as part of the Health Ministry’s preventive screening program.

According to a recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the global incidents of cancer (Globalcan), Greece recorded 64,530 new cases of cancer in 2020, 12.2% of which were colon cancer, making it the third most common cancer in both genders and the second leading cause of cancer-related death.

In its report, the WHO warns that colon cancer is not only limited to the elderly but is increasingly affecting individuals even below the 50-year-old threshold.

According to the findings published in the scientific journal “Journal of the National Cancer Institute,” some early warning signs for people to look out for related to colon cancer include:

– Iron-deficiency anemia
– Rectal bleeding
– Abdominal pain
– Diarrhea

A research team from the University of Washington analyzed health insurance data of at least 5,000 people with early-onset colon cancer identifying four specific symptoms indicating an increased risk of this type of cancer in individuals under 50 years old.

The data suggested that approximately 19% of individuals with early-onset colorectal cancer experienced symptoms between three months and two years before diagnosis. However, about 49% noticed the first symptom within three months before diagnosis.

Environment – Diet

The rise in the number of people under the age of 50 with early onset of colon cancer may be attributed (in part) to environmental and dietary factors that scientists have not yet pinpointed, according to a Yale School of Medicine article.

Health experts advise young adults to adopt a healthier lifestyle, by avoiding bad habits that may contribute to the development of the disease, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and processed food intake. Conversely, maintaining a healthy weight and consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables significantly benefit health.