Patients' Resources

Colon cancer is the cancer of the large intestine called colon. Rectal cancer is the cancer of the last several inches of the colon. Together, they are called colorectal cancer.

According to the Health Promotion Board, colorectal cancer is the number 1 cancer in Singapore. Certain factors may increase your risk of colorectal cancer, including eating huge amounts of fatty foods, a family history of colorectal cancer, the presence of polyps in the large intestines, and inflammatory bowel diseases, primarily chronic ulcerative colitis.

If you are at high risk of colorectal cancer, your doctor may recommend colorectal cancer screening in Singapore hospital or clinic.

There are various methods of colorectal cancer screening in Singapore, including faecal occult blood, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy and virtual CT colonoscopy.

Among these methods, patients seem to worry about colonoscopy the most.

If you are considering a colorectal cancer screening, here are questions you might want to ask your doctor:

#1. How do I prepare for a colorectal cancer screening?

Preparing for a colorectal cancer screening comes with instructions which may, to a varying degree, include:

A. Avoiding solid food 1 day before the screening

B. Adjusting your medications to avoid counter reactions

C. Taking laxatives or undergoing an enema to empty your colon

You may speak to your doctor if any of these preparations for colorectal cancer screening make you feel uncomfortable. The doctor can recommend alternatives while at the same time ensuring that the screening will be effective.

#2. Do I need to be sedated during the test?

You can ask your doctor on whether or not the procedure for colorectal cancer screening requires you to be sedated and if there is any follow-up care needed.

For instance, during a colonoscopy, the doctor inserts a thin tube through your rectum called the colonoscope to check the inner lining of your intestines for polyps, ulcers, tumours, inflammation, bleeding and other irregularities.

Not only do some people find this procedure of colorectal cancer screening uncomfortable, they also think it is rather inconvenient. Talk to your doctor before a colonoscopy so he or she can advise you and keep your anxiety at bay.

#3. What should be your attitude towards the result of the screening?

Regular colorectal cancer screening in Singapore hospitals or clinics is recommended for people over 50 years old. They are those with a high risk of developing colorectal cancer.

People who are at high risk (e.g. strong family history, history of inflammatory diseases) will need colorectal cancer screening in Singapore at a younger age.

The important thing to remember is that colorectal cancer screening helps detect early signs of cancer so that you can help fight the risks of colon cancer.

Colon cancer can be prevented by increasing your daily physical activities, increasing your daily dietary intake of fruits and vegetables, decreasing red meat, stopping smoking, moderating your  alcohol consumption and participating in regular colon cancer screening program.

Remember, more than 90% of colon cancer is curable with modern treatment when detected early.