The Silent Signs of Colorectal Cancer

colorectal cancer signs
Colon cancer (which include colon and rectal) is the third most common cancer in the world and around 60% of cases are diagnosed in the developed countries.
Common symptoms that patients may experience are blood in the stool, change in bowel habits, weight loss, tiredness due to anemia, abdominal pain and abdominal bloatedness. If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, patients may complain of pain in the upper right of the abdomen, skin turning yellow, cough, shortness of breath. Colorectal cancer can be present for several years before symptoms develop.
Factors that increase a person's risk of colorectal cancer include high fat intake, a family history of colorectal cancer and polyps, the presence of polyps in the large intestine, and inflammatory bowel diseases, primarily chronic ulcerative colitis.

Age:

Risk of colon cancer increases above the age of 50.

Lifestyle:

Lack of physical exercise, smoking, obesity.

Dietary:

Diets high in fat are believed to predispose people to colorectal cancer. In countries with high colorectal cancer rates, the fat intake by the population is much higher than in countries with low cancer rates. Diets high in vegetables and high-fibre foods such as whole-grain breads and cereals reduce the risk of cancer.

Polyps:

Most colorectal cancers develop in colorectal polyps. Therefore, removing benign but precancerous colorectal polyps can potentially prevent colorectal cancer.

Inflammatory bowel disease:

Chronic ulcerative colitis causes inflammation of the inner lining of the colon. Colon cancer is a recognized complication of chronic ulcerative colitis and the risk for cancer begins to increase after 8 to 10 years of colitis.

Family history and Genetics:

Having a family history of 2 or more first degree relatives have a two to three folds greater risk of colon cancer, and this group accounts for 20% of all cases. Even though a family history of colon cancer is an important risk factor, a majority (80%) of colon cancers occur sporadically in patients with no family history of colon cancer.
Risk of developing Colon cancers or dying from colon cancers can be prevented through life style modifications and screening program. Current dietary recommendations include reducing red meat intake, taking 5 portions of fruits and vegetables in our daily diet. Physical activity can also help to reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.
Screening is recommended for people above the age of 50. People who are at high risk (e.g. family history of colorectal cancer, history of inflammatory diseases) will need to commence screening at a younger age. Various screening methods are available and these include faecal occult blood, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy and virtual CT colonoscopy.
More than 90% of early-stage colon cancer is curable by modern treatment. However, it is important to note that treatment of colon cancer depends on the location, size and extent of cancer spread, as well as the health of the patients.
In conclusion, colon cancer is one of the common cancers in both women and men. It can be prevented by increasing our daily physical activities, increasing our daily dietary intake of fruits and vegetables, decreasing red meat consumption, quitting smoking, moderating our alcohol consumption and going for regular colon cancer screenings.
Picture of The Cancer Centre

The Cancer Centre

Our oncology team is attentive to every need from information and consultation to treatment and rest. Regardless of the questions that cancer may pose, we will take the time to answer, guide and share – because we understand and care. The Cancer Centre is located at Paragon Medical & Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre.

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