Colorectal Cancer Awareness
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is a cancer that develops from the cells of the large intestine. The large intestine consists of the colon and rectum. Due to the rectum being a mere 15cm of the large intestines, and the close proximity to the surrounding organs, the chance of the cancer spreading to neighbouring organs in the pelvis is significantly high. Cancerous growths mostly begin as small, non-cancerous growths attached to the wall of the colon. They are called polyps and may become cancerous over time. Colorectal cancer is currently the Number One cancer in Singapore.
What are the symptoms?
- A change in bowel habits, for example, consistent diarrhoea or constipation
- The presence of blood or mucus in the stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort
- Constant fatigue
- Severe/unexplained weight loss
Screening for colorectal cancer should begin from age 50 for all healthy adults. This screening age may vary depending on individual risk factors.
Should you identify with any of the symptoms and/or have positive risk factors as listed above, please schedule a screening with your doctor as soon as possible.
Recommended screening tests are:
Stool blood test (Faecal Immunochemical Test)
- Detects the presence of small amounts of blood in the stools that cannot be seen by the naked eye
- Should be done once a year
- Uses a flexible tube to look at the inner lining of the large intestine
- Colonoscopy is now Medisave claimable up to $1250
- Should be done once every 10 years. The frequency of screening may vary depending on individual risk factors.
Treatment of Colorectal Cancer includes surgery, radiation therapy as well as chemotherapy.
To reduce risks of Colorectal Cancer, here are some doctor’s recommendations:
- Increase your dietary fibre intake by increasing fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your daily meals.
- Cut down on your dietary fat intake (especially saturated fats). Saturated fats are usually found in animal fats and full cream dairy products. Eat leaner cuts of the meat and opt of for low fat dairy products instead in your meals
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Quit smoking. You can also see your doctor for help in quitting cigarettes (like nicotine gum or nicotine patches)
- Exercising regularly. This will help keep the body in shape as well as boost your confidence!
Screening can help detect cancer in its early stages for effective treatment. Coming forward for an early detection and treatment can improve chances of cure. Contact your doctor or Lifescan Medical Centre for your next health screening appointment.