Blog

29-08-2018
How common is Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal Cancer is a preventable and curable cancer. However, Dr Ganesh Ramalingam is concerned that it is currently the most common cancer in males and second most common cancer in females in Singapore. There are around 1200 cases of colon cancer diagnosed annually. Even though the cancer has good rates of cure when detected early, many are picked up only in the later stages of the disease. Survival rates dip from 98% in Stage A and 80% in Stage B to 40-70% in Stage C and less than 5% in Stage D.

These statistics just emphasise the utmost importance of identifying the risk factors and recognising the need for regular screening. This will lead to early detection of cancer when the chance of cure is the highest. Furthermore, polyps can also be detected and removed to actually “prevent” cancer development.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • consistent loose stools or constipation / difficulty in passing motion;
  • blood in the stools (either bright red or maroon colour);
  • change in bowel habits from the usual frequency and consistency.
  • any abdominal discomfort that includes bloating or cramps
  • a feeling that the bowel does not empty completely;
  • excessive gas in the abdomen;
  • a hard lump or mass in abdomen
  • rapid decrease in weight or appetite

 

Risk Factors

  • Age (risk increases after the age of 50)
  • History of previous colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer;
  • History of inflammatory bowel disease
  • A history in the immediate family of colorectal cancer

 

Screening

Dr Ganesh Ramalingam recommends going for regular screening for colon cancer especially after hitting the age of 50. If you have a positive family history of colorectal cancer, he is recommending you talk to your doctor to get regular screening done. For more information on early detection or screening for colon cancer, do consult Dr Ganesh Ramalingam at G&L Surgical. Early detection means a higher chance of cure or prevention. These facts are also reflected in the MOH guidelines.

 

A colonoscopy is the best investigation for detection and removal of polyps. As Doctor Ganesh always says, “Prevention is better than cure”. Colonoscopy allows the doctor to look at the entire length of the colon and rectum. This is done with a colonoscope which is a thin and flexible tube with a small camera on the end. Special instruments can be passed through the scope to enable sample to be taken or even remove polyps so that they can be sent for assessment by the pathologist to exclude cancers.

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