The idea of undergoing or needing a colonoscopy may be uncomfortable and alarming for some. However, did you know that colonoscopies are one of the most important tests you can have done to prevent colon cancer? While the stigma of having someone inspect your colon may not be inviting, you may be surprised at how effective a colonoscopy can be at helping save lives.
Colorectal cancer refers to cancer from the colon (the main part of the large intestine) or rectum (the connection between the large intestine to the anus). As the most common type of cancer in Singapore, colon cancer is the number one killer in Singapore for both men and women.
Although genetic or environmental factors may cause colon cancer, it does not develop over a short period. For most people, it takes years before the cancer manifests. As a result, regular checks of the colon and rectum through a colonoscopy are typically advised by doctors. Colonoscopies detect and remove small polyps and precancerous lumps before they have the chance to develop into cancerous tumours.
With that said, how do you know that you need a colonoscopy? Here are the five signs that indicate you should get your colon checked.
Sign #1: You are aged 45 years old & above.
According to Healthhub, the risk of developing colon cancers increases if you are over 45 years old. As colon polyps (the cause of colon cancer) develop most commonly amongst adults aged 45 and above, your risk of developing cancer significantly increases as you age. This is especially important if you also suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease.
Speak to your doctor to arrange for regular screening through colonoscopy every five years to check for signs of cancer and polyps.
Sign #2: You experience a sudden change in bowel consistency and bowel movement.
Patients with colon cancer may not display any symptoms at all. However, one of the most common symptoms is the change in your bowel movement consistency.
Take note of changes in the colour of your stools that dietary influences cannot rule out.
Usually, the stools may have the following characteristics:
- Black Stools – Black stools are a serious indication that you may have cancer in your bowel. It can be brown, red, or black, and the stool may also have a tar-like consistency.
- Bright Red Stools – Bright red stools may be another sign of colon cancer and are often associated with cancers of the lower intestine. In cases like this, it can indicate bleeding in the colon due to the presence of tumours.
- Thin Stools – Stools that appear as thin as a pencil may indicate an obstruction in the colon. As the tumours increase in size, they may lead to intestinal obstruction, causing the stools to appear thin when they exit the body.
Apart from that, sudden changes in bowel movements such as frequent diarrhoea or constipation that lasts more than two weeks are other signs that you should be looking out for.
Sign #3: You experience unexplained weight loss.
While weight loss can be due to other factors such as malnutrition and change in appetite, unexplained weight loss can be another indicator that a colonoscopy screening is due.
Cancer patients often experience weight loss due to increased energy consumption from the immune system in combating the presence of tumours. As a result, the body utilises more energy than usual, resulting in weight loss. Moreover, in cases where the tumours become large, they may also lead to blockages inside your colon, which can cause bowel changes; this could result in further weight reduction on its own.
Sign #4: You have a family history of colon cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Colorectal cancer is hereditary, and knowing that you’re at risk will give you the best chance to arrange for frequent colonoscopies to detect the tumours before they turn cancerous.
Additionally, people who have a family history of inflammatory bowel diseases or colon polyps are strongly recommended to schedule regular screenings through colonoscopy as these diseases are hereditary.
Sign #5: You experience frequent colon pain.
Pain in the body may not always indicate a serious illness. Still, if you experience frequent colon pain or pain in the abdomen that is persistent and severe, it can be a sign of colon cancer and should never be overlooked. One of the reasons for this association is because as colon tumours increase in size, they lead to blockages in the colon, causing gas and stools to build up in the body, leading to pain.
Colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers in the world. Through colonoscopies, doctors can often pick up precancerous polyps before they turn malignant. By paying close attention to the signs above, you have a guide on whether it’s time for you to have your regular screening done.
Remember, prevention is always better than cure, and if you are keeping an eye on your health, you can save your life.
Why Choose Us For Your Colonoscopy In Singapore?
Dr Ganesh at G & L Surgical Clinic strives to prioritise his patients’ recovery and comfort. Having had adequate experience in performing colonoscopies for numerous patients for many years in Singapore.
Furthermore, the staff at G & L Surgical Clinic have been thoroughly and adequately trained to make your experience a comfortable and hassle-free one. Whether you intend to undergo a colonoscopy or other medical services in Singapore, you can rest assured that you will be properly and sufficiently cared for by trained professionals.
Organise a consultation with our surgeons for further assistance on colonoscopies in Singapore.