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Is Your Colon Healthy?

Afrikaanse Media Vrystelling

21 April 2022 –  The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) promotes living an active balanced lifestyle and promotes that certain lifestyle changes can lower the risk of cancer.* It further advocates cutting out lifestyle factors that can put one at risk for cancer, especially colorectal cancer which is among the top three cancers** among men and women in South Africa. Poor lifestyle choices can play a significant part, in increasing risk for this type of cancer.

#CANSAColorectalCancer #ColorectalCancerAwareness #ActiveBalancedLifestyle

Lorraine Govender, CANSA’s National Manager: Health Promotion, talks about CANSA’s Colorectal Awareness Campaign, now in its second year: “We aim to educate with the facts in a fun, interactive way. In partnership with Medtronic, CANSA released a colorectal awareness video featuring ‘Sizwe and Crystal’ who discover how their lifestyle choices have affected their colorectal health, and what symptoms they should not ignore.”

Colin the Colon Tunnel

Govender adds, “The ‘Colin the Colon’ Tunnel, was further created to give the public a chance to learn about colorectal cancer in a visual and tactile manner. The public can walk through a 2x3m inflatable tunnel representing the colorectal tract and get educated about colorectal cancer. Colin may be viewed inside and out at various CANSA events and may even be requested to be on display at employee wellness events by the public, just email us on”

Colorectal or colon cancer is among the top three cancers for both men and women in South Africa with 1 in 77 males and 1 in 132 females diagnosed according to the National Cancer Register (2019)**. There is evidence of many more younger individuals being diagnosed with colorectal cancer. It’s the second most common cancer in men (following prostate cancer) and the third most common cancer in women (following breast and cervical cancer). Unfortunately, there aren’t always symptoms in the very early stages of this cancer, and when symptoms occur, they are often dismissed as unrelated or misdiagnosed. Many people are diagnosed only when the disease has progressed to an advanced stage.

“Sizwe, Crystal and Colin help create awareness of risk factors that should be cut out to lower risk of colorectal cancer, and of symptoms of the disease, potentially saving many lives through early detection, when the cancer is still treatable. CANSA recommends regular cancer screening, awareness of your body and family history, as well as leading an active balanced lifestyle,” Govender concludes.

Factors increasing risk for colorectal cancer include lifestyle factors such as lack of regular exercise; low fruit / vegetable intake; low fibre and high fat diet; obesity; alcohol abuse; tobacco use and poor oral hygiene. Hereditary syndromes (Lynch Syndrome); a personal or family history of polyps or colorectal cancer; inflammatory bowel disease; type 2 Diabetes and old age are other risk factors.***

CANSA offers an online Lifestyle Risk Assessment Tool, that helps identify lifestyle factors which could increase cancer risk, and then provides recommendations on how to change behaviour to lower cancer risk. This can also be done at CANSA Care Centres.


It’s important to be aware of a family history of colorectal cancer and to take advantage of screening, before symptoms are experienced, and not to wait until experiencing discomfort, as there are no symptoms at the onset of this cancer. Early detection is particularly important.

A colonoscopy, performed by a Gastroenterologist, in symptomatic patients or patients over the age of 50 can detect precancerous polyps in the colon. If these polyps are removed, the chance of developing colorectal cancer can be dramatically reduced. If abnormal symptoms are experienced, or if there is a family history of colorectal cancer, a colonoscopy may be requested at a younger age.

Identifying the presence of blood in the stool, can help detect colorectal cancer early. Faecal Occult at home stool tests (R100), which can be done at home, are available at certain CANSA Care Centres – email for details. If the test is positive (visible red line on test strip) for the presence of blood in the stool, CANSA will provide a referral letter to request a colonoscopy.

Stoma Service

Many colorectal cancer patients have a portion of their bowel and / or colon removed and end up with a permanent stoma. A stoma is an opening on the abdomen that connects to the digestive or urinary system to allow waste to be diverted from the body. It can take a while for a patient to adapt to living with a stoma, so it’s important to seek support from CANSA.

CANSA’s stoma service has an excellent offering of stoma products, accessories and provides patient support. The CANSA Tele Stoma Support Service offers online consultations for stoma patients and their families to assist with challenges or stoma queries. Make an appointment on 0800 22 66 22.

** National Cancer Registry 2019
*** CANSA Colorectal Cancer Fact Sheet

Slideshow: PDF

CANSA offers a unique integrated service to the public and to all people affected by cancer. CANSA is a leading role-player in cancer research and the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to realign our health programmes, as well as strengthen our watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public. Our health programmes comprise health and education campaigns; CANSA Care Centres that offer a wide range of care and support services to those affected by cancer; stoma and other clinical support; medical equipment hire, as well as a toll-free line to offer information and support. We offer a Tele Counselling service in seven languages free of charge. We also supply patient care and support in the form of 8 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas for out-of-town cancer patients and CANSA-TLC lodging for parents and guardians of children undergoing cancer treatment.

Queries CANSA

 0800 22 6622 Toll Free
 072 197 9305 English and Afrikaans (text only)
 071 867 3530 isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, Setswana and Sepedi (text only)
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 072 197 9305 English and Afrikaans (text only)
 071 867 3530 isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, Setswana and Sepedi (text only)


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