Colorectal or colon cancer is the most common cancer in Singapore. Every day, 5 people in Singapore are diagnosed with the cancer, and 2 die of it.
Colorectal Cancer affects the colon and large intestine (rectum). Typically, polyps start to form on the inner wall of the colon and rectum about the age of 50 and are typically removed once detected. Colon cancer describes the presence of malignant polyps in the colon.
Causes and Risks
The risk of getting colon cancer increases with age. It is mostly diagnosed in men and women over the age of 50. Chinese tend to be at higher risk of colorectal cancer. The presence of colorectal polyps increases the risk, as well as a family history of colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and a diet that is high in animal fat, tobacco and alcohol.
Colon cancer has little to no symptoms, so it is important to look out for blood in your stool, change in bowel habits, abdominal pains and a presence of a lump in the abdomen. A blood test that shows a low count of red cells, also known as Anaemia, can also be an early warning sign of colorectal cancer.
Colon cancer is most commonly diagnosed via a colonoscopy. It allows for the entire colon to be checked. At the same time, any polyps can be removed and biopsied. Other diagnosis tools include CT scan and tumour marker screenings.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are followed by a keyhole surgery (laparoscopy colon surgery). There are cases where a colostomy will need to be performed, following which the patient will need to wear a colostomy bag to support, clean, and care for their own digestive system.