~ Iron Deficiency Could Be Indication of Colon Cancer

St.Petersburg Times, 08-22-05

Anemia is frequently encountered in the elderly. It is merely a sign of decreased hemoglobin content for which there are many reasons, including chronic kidney disease, liver disease, rheumatologic diseases, chronic and acute leukemias, nutritional deficiencies, a variety of primary bone marrow disorders and iron deficiency, to name some.

Iron deficiency is usually seen in the underdeveloped countries and in young menstruating women. Its presence in post menopausal women and elderly men might be a sign of colorectal cancer.

A report from Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, South Wales, says 60 percent of newly diagnosed patients with colorectal cancer have iron deficiency. Of these, 70 percent have anemia associated with iron deficiency, which is suggestive on review of the complete blood picture.

A good 30 percent, however, have iron deficiency without significant anemia, which makes it difficult to diagnose on casual examination alone because the complete blood count, or CBC, does not reveal the usual clues to iron deficiency.

It requires a high index of suspicion, microscopic examination of the peripheral blood smear, laboratory evaluation of the body's iron reserves and consideration of the various clinical signs of anemia such as irritability, weakness, fatigue, headache, palpitation, loss of appetite and exercise intolerance among many others.

Early diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia can help doctors diagnose colorectal cancer at an earlier and more curable stage.

Researchers from Royal Gwent found iron deficiency more frequently associated with cancers of the right side of the colon as compared to the left-sided cancers and cancers of the rectum. The presence of iron deficiency, however, did not correlate with the stage of the cancer in the report.

The two tests for iron deficiency evaluation in common clinical practice are the transferring saturation and serum ferritin. While the serum ferritin fluctuates in response to various acute and chronic diseases, the transferring saturation is more stable and a better indicator of iron deficiency.

While anemia is common in the elderly, its causes are many. Accurate diagnosis is important for proper treatment. Oral iron supplements usually suffice, but some patients who are intolerant of oral iron can be treated with intravenous iron replacement.

Diagnosis and treatment of iron deficiency is important, but referral of these patients for complete endoscopic evaluation to rule out a benign or malignant lesion of the GI tract is even more important.

--V. Upender Rao, M.D., FACP, practices at the Cancer and Blood Disease Center in Lecanto.

To see more of The St. Petersburg Times, go to http://www.sptimes.com


Free Shipping in the Continental U.S. on Orders over $50
The statements made here have not been evaluated by the FDA. The foregoing statements are based upon sound and reliable studies, and are meant for informational purposes. Consult with your medical practitioner to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms. Please always check your purchase for possible allergins and correct dosage on the bottle before use.

While we work to ensure that product information is correct, on occasion manufacturers may alter their ingredient lists. Actual product packaging and materials may contain more and/or different information than that shown on our Web site. We recommend that you do not solely rely on the information presented and that you always read labels, warnings, and directions before using or consuming a product. For additional information about a product, please contact the manufacturer. Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. Life Ex Online assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements about products.