Colorectal Cancer: Myths & Facts (Part 2)

“Cancer” is a powerful word that evokes strong feelings and often associated with a lot of fear. It shouldn’t! According to oncologists, majority of their patients often come with preconceived conceptions about cancer that are inaccurate – and often more terrifying than the reality. 

March is a month that shines a national spotlight on colorectal cancer. We have published our first post of this month about the most common myths surrounding this cancer, however there is still plenty of misinformation and myths out there. Here below we shall debunk more myths on colorectal cancer:

Myth: Only people with a family history of colorectal cancer get it.

Fact: Around 75% of all new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed in people who have no known risk factors for the disease. If you have a family history of cancer, you will need to start screening sooner or more regularly.

Myth: I can’t get colorectal cancer before the age of 50. It only happens in old men.

Fact: Colorectal cancer occurs in both men and women of all ages. It is the most common cancer in men, second most common cancer in women and third leading cause of cancer-related death in Malaysia.

Myth: Having a colon or rectal polyp means I have colorectal cancer.

Fact: Polyps, or adenomas, are benign growths and does not mean you have cancer. Most polyps are completely treated by removing them during colonoscopy. However, if it is left untreated, it can progress into colorectal cancer. A polyp usually takes 5 to 10 years to become malignant. This gives colorectal cancer a significant window of opportunity to be detected while it is still in the premalignant stage (before a polyp becomes cancerous).

Myth: Everything causes cancer so why bother trying to prevent it?

Fact: Why not? The quality of life is more important than life itself. As a matter of fact, colorectal cancer is the most preventable diseases. Simple and controllable ways to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer development include eating a balanced diet, maintain balance of your gut flora, avoiding tobacco products and smoke, exercising regularly and following screening guidelines.


Schliemann, D., Paramasivam, D., Dahlui, M. et al. Change in public awareness of colorectal cancer symptoms following the Be Cancer Alert Campaign in the multi-ethnic population of Malaysia. BMC Cancer 20, 252 (2020).

Jacie Chiew

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