What is a colon cancer?
Colon cancer is the most common cancer in Singaporean males and the second most common cancer in Singaporean females.
In most people, colorectal cancer develop slowly over several years. It starts as growth of benign tissues called polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum before slowly turning into cancer.
What are the risk factors for colon cancer?
- Colon cancer can occur in any age groups but risks increase with age, usually in those over the age of 50.
- Personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
- Personal history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- Genetic syndrome, Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC) and Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP)
- Physical inactivity
- Low-fibre and high-fat diet
- Excessive alcohol drinking
What are the signs and symptoms of colon cancer?
- Blood in the stool
- Unexplained weight loss
- Change in bowel habits (constipation or loose stools)
- Bloating and feeling of fullness
- Stools that are narrower than normal
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
What is colonoscopy? How often should I go for colon screening?
An outpatient procedure called a colonoscopy is used to view the inside of the colon and rectum. It is usually done under sedation with little or no discomfort. It is used to evaluate gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, or bleeding. You should go for a colonoscopy if you are 50 years old and above, show symptoms of colorectal cancer, or have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps.
How do we treat colorectal cancer?
The three main treatment options for colon cancer are Surgery, Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy, which can be combined or carried out on a standalone basis.
Laparoscopic (keyhole) colorectal surgery is an advancement to the typical colorectal surgery through the use of minimally invasive incisions of the patient to remove cancerous sections of the colon and/or rectum.
Chemotherapy is the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells present at the site of the cancer or elsewhere in the body after surgery. It is meant for patients with advanced colorectal cancer at stages II, III, or IV after surgery and improves survival rates.
Radiotherapy uses powerful radioactive rays to kill any residual cancer cells that might remain after surgery, shrink large tumours before an operation so that they can be removed more easily, or relieve symptoms of colorectal cancer.
Why choose Centre for Screening and Surgery?
The Centre for Screening and Surgery (CSS) specialises in the screening and detection of cancer in its early stages. In the case of colon and other gastrointestinal cancers, we use high-definition gastroscopy and colonoscopy to diagnose cancers or remove polyps, in addition to blood tests for tumour markers. When surgery is needed, we specialise in the minimally invasive approach, including robotic surgery, leading to less pain, a shorter recovery, and better cosmetic results.
CSS is led by Dr Kum Cheng Kiong, a pioneer in Asia for Minimally Invasive Surgery (Laparoscopic Surgery or Keyhole Surgery) with more than 30 years of experience and has received advanced training in colorectal surgery in Cleveland clinic, USA. He is the former President of the Singapore chapter of the Endoscopic and Laparoscopic Surgeons of Asia (ELSA) and the founding member of the Endoscopic and Laparoscopic Surgeons of Asia.
1“Does colorectal cancer only affect men mostly?”, Singapore Cancer Society, 2022