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Lord Love a Lefty – World Left Handers Day 13th August

We all know a few facts about left handed people, or ‘south paws’ as they are affectionally known.  Like, they are more creative, are fond of a tipple or that they make great leaders. Though most of these facts, while fascinating, are not backed up by the science.  

Courtesy of Cancer Council Victoria

What you may not know is that there is a difference in cancers that are found in the left-hand side of the colon compared to the right-hand side of the colon. The colon (see graphic for reference) winds its way up the right-hand side of the abdomen, crosses the width, and then makes its way down the left side of the abdomen to the rectum and anus.  

Cancers which occur in the left-hand side of the colon are shaped like little bulbs (polyps) and are easier to find with a colonoscopy.  Those on the right-hand side of the colon tend to be flatter.  Colon cancers also differ depending on which side they present on. 

Symptoms of bowel cancer can include:

  • Change in bowel habit with diarrhoea, constipation or the feeling of incomplete emptying
  • Thin bowel movements 
  • Blood in the stools
  • Abdominal pain, bloating or cramping 
  • Anal or rectal pain
  • A lump in the anus or rectum 
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue 
  • Unexplained anaemia 

Those on the left have more chromosomal abnormalities and those on the right are more triggered by immune system changes. This means treatments such as chemotherapy and certain targeted therapies work better on left sided colon cancers, and newer immunotherapies may work better on right sided colon cancers.

So, as you ponder the uniqueness of being left-handed, spare a thought for the colon whose differences are both distinct and supported by science.

World Left Handers Day 13th August 2019