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Women's Health

Why Is a Colonoscopy the Best Way to Prevent Colon Cancer?

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Introduction

Singapore marks Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March every year, with the aim of spreading awareness and the importance of screening to help in the prevention of colorectal cancer. 

According to the Singapore Cancer Registry, Colorectal Cancer is the top cancer among males and second most common cancer among females above the age of 50. In many cases, colorectal cancer is preventable in the early stages through regular screenings, such as a Colonoscopy.

Read on to learn more about colorectal cancer, its symptoms, and how early detection through regular screening can save lives.

What Is Colorectal Cancer?

When you eat, food enters your digestive tract – a series of organs that form a pathway from your mouth to your anus. As food moves down this pathway, the large intestine (colon) absorbs water and converts food residue into solid waste (stool). 

Polyps can occur on the colon’s and rectum’s inner walls. These are benign growths that occur often in persons over the age of 50. Certain types of polyps, on the other hand, may grow into cancer. Removal of polyps during a colonoscopy reduces the risk of developing colon cancer in the future.

A polyp’s appearance and biopsy can reveal whether it’s cancerous:

  • Large polyps with a diameter of more than 1 cm.
  • Flat (Sessile) polyps with a stalk (pedunculated) 
  • Several polyps.

Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer does not present any symptoms in the early stages. When symptoms do appear, it will vary depending on the cancer’s size and its location in your colon.

Some possible symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • Changes in bowel habits that persist for more than a few days, such as diarrhoea, constipation, or stool narrowing.
  • A persistent and constant urge for a bowel movement Rectal bleeding with bright, crimson blood.
  • Blood in the faeces, Cramping or soreness in the abdomen (belly).
  • Weakness and exhaustion.
  • Unexplainable weight loss.

What Is A Colonoscopy?

A colonoscope is a tiny scope that is placed into the colon and images are displayed onto a monitor screen. Medications can be administered for relaxation, with sedation throughout the procedure.

Your doctor can see the whole colon and rectum during a colonoscopy. During the procedure, the doctor will look for polyps and remove them. Polyps left untreated can lead to colorectal cancer. Your doctor will collect photos during the colonoscopy, and discuss any areas of concern with you during your post-procedure appointment. 

Colonoscopies are conducted every 10 years, starting as early as 45 years old for persons with an average risk of colon cancer.

Why Should You Go For A Colonoscopy?

Adenomatous polyps cause the majority of colorectal cancers. Multiple gene alterations can take 5 to 10 years for adenomatous polyps to become malignant (adenoma-carcinoma sequence). Adenomatous polyps are usually painless. They are found in up to 25% of people over the age of 50, and the prevalence rises with age. The majority of polyps (90 per cent) can be eliminated via a colonoscopy, without the need for surgery.

Colorectal cancer is highly treatable when detected early, thus screening is critical. Colorectal cancer frequently has no symptoms in its early stages. As cancer grows, symptoms begin to appear.

Who Should Go For A Colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is the most accurate screening method to prevent and detect colorectal cancer early, providing the greatest chance for treatment.

If you belong to the following categories, it is recommended that you go for regular colorectal screening:

  • Those who are aged 50 and older.
  • Those with a family history of colorectal cancer and adenomatous polyps.
  • Those who experience symptoms of colorectal cancer.
  • Those who receive a positive result on another colorectal cancer screening test such as the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)

Advantages Of A Colonoscopy

  • Early Detection: It allows your doctor to check for polyps during the procedure..
  • Helps in testing other medical conditions: Colonoscopies can also reveal symptoms such as abdominal pain, anal bleeding, unexpected weight loss, and bowel activity abnormalities.
  • Life-saving: Colonoscopies allow your doctor to remove potentially cancerous polyps.
  • Accuracy: Most comprehensive and precise method for the prevention and diagnosis of colorectal cancer.

Are Colonoscopies Safe?

Colonoscopies are generally a safe procedure with minimal complications:

  • Dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting
  • Reaction to sedatives or anaesthetic
  • Bleeding where polyps have been removed
  • Very rarely (in less than 1 in 1000 cases), perforation (hole in the colon wall).

Your doctor will discuss and explain everything you need to know before the procedure.

Are There Any Special Preparations Needed For Colonoscopies?

Before The Procedure 

Your colon is required to be clear to allow the procedure to proceed. A day prior to your

scheduled colonoscopy, you must eat a light meal, stop taking specific medications, fast, and take a special bowel preparation solution to clear all faeces. All these will be advised by your specialist.

After The Procedure

After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery room to rest. You may feel bloated when you first wake up. It is advisable to have a family member or friend accompany you home, especially if you have been sedated.

Conclusion

Colorectal Cancer is Singapore’s most common yet most preventable cancer. Going for colonoscopies is a crucial screening that you should undergo regularly. 

Schedule your colonoscopy with our colorectal specialist Dr. Sim Hsien Lin to reduce any uncertainties.

🌐 Sign up for SOG Classic Screen with Colonoscopy Package at: 

https://www.sog.com.sg/health-screening/classic-screen-with-colonoscopy/ 

✅ Classic Screen Package (essential screening tests)

✅ Colonoscopy (colorectal cancer screening)

For more information about our health screening packages and the various tests included in our Classic Screen package, visit http://bit.ly/SOGHealthScreening  

WHO WE ARE

About Singapore O&G Ltd

Established in 2011, Singapore O&G Ltd. (SOG) is a leading healthcare service provider dedicated towards delivering holistic health & wellness services specially catered to the modern family.

With a long and established track record in Singapore providing obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) services such as pre-pregnancy counselling, delivery, pregnancy and post-delivery care, the Group has since further expanded its spectrum of healthcare services to include paediatrics, endocrinology, gynaecological cancer, cancer-related general surgery for breast, thyroid and colon (colorectal), as well as skin and aesthetics treatments.

The Group’s clinics, under its four operating segments of O&G, Paediatrics, Cancer-related and Dermatology, are strategically located throughout Singapore to provide easy access to its patients.

SOG has been listed in the Catalist board of the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited since 4 June 2015.

  • Health Screening
  • Obstetrics
  • Gynaecology
  • Confinement Services
  • Endocrinology
  • GynaeOncology
  • Breast, Thyroid & General Surgery
  • Colorectal, Endoscopy & General Surgery
  • Dermatology
  • Paediatrics

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