The importance of a month long campaign that has started almost 20 years ago cannot be over emphasized. There must be a reason why such a spotlight has been placed on this disease – colorectal cancer.
The National Cancer Registry of Singapore has discovered the rising trend of colorectal cancer many years ago both in the elderly but also the young and had started the campaign. However, the trend continued and now colorectal cancer is the number one cancer in our country. It is estimated that almost 2000 new cases of colon cancer will be picked up in Singapore yearly! Statistically it’s about 3 out of every 100 people!
The Ministry of Health has come up with some guidelines on who are at higher risk of getting colon and rectal cancer. They include individuals over the age of 50 and those who have a strong family history of cancer. Also it is strongly advocated to check if there are symptoms or complaints that point towards colorectal cancer. They include bleeding in the stools, change in bowel size or bowel habits, abdominal pain or anemia.
It’s easy to get screened for colon cancer in Singapore. As part of the campaign, there are many clinics and hospitals that do a simple stool test that checks for blood. It’s easy and convenient to check. If this basic stool test shows blood in the stool, there is a strong reason to undergo a colonoscopy to further check for a reason for the bleeding which may include colon cancer. Sometimes the simple stool test may not be accurate.
There are other methods to check the colon and rectum that include a CT scan or a barium study C ray. However, the best and most accurate method to check for colon cancer is the colonoscopy. It involves introducing a flexible tube with a camera and light attached to its tip through the anus to directly visualize the entire colon. It’s added advantages other than being very accurate is that it is safe and it’s done under sedation. This means that there will be no pain and you will not be aware that the procedure is done.
Another important fact is that Colorectal cancer usually starts with a little growth in the inner lining of the colon and rectum. This is called a polyp and it’s not only non cancerous at the start, it can also he easily removed via the colonoscopy.
With regular colonoscopy between 5 to 10 years apart, colorectal cancer rates in Singapore can definitely be reduced and most of these cancers can even be prevented of polyps can be detected early and removed before they become a full blown cancer.
Speak to Dr Ganesh at G&L Surgical for further information on colorectal cancer awareness month and about how to prevent colorectal cancer!