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Colorectal cancer: Risk factors and preventive measures | Health Plus, Health News


Colorectal cancer - Risk factors and prevention

Why is colorectal screening important?

Colorectal cancer, the most common cancer in Singapore, is also one of the most preventable. Yet, enough people do not go to read to detect it early on the precancerous scene.

What causes colorectal cancer?

The exact cause of colorectal cancer is unknown, but there are many factors that increase the risk of colorectal cancer such as age, smoking, lack of exercise, stress, family history and diseases such as diabetes and ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.

Can colorectal cancer be prevented?

Colorectal cancer begins with small and benign growths called polyps. A polyp runs slowly from a few millimeters to about 2 cm in diameter before it turns into colorectal cancer. The only proven way to prevent colorectal cancer is to detect these polyps early and remove them before it's too late.

How often do I go for a colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a simple procedure that allows doctors to visually examine the intestine, to detect precancerous polyps and remove them. Doctors recommend screening colonoscopy for people over 50 years. Early colorectal cancer can not be symptomatic and therefore difficult to detect without regular screening.

That is why everyone with colorectal cancer symptoms such as rectal haemorrhage and change in intestinal habits should seek medical treatment regardless of age. Those with a family history of colorectal cancer should start colonoscopy earlier and do it more often. If the screening results are normal you should have a 5 to 10 year afterwards. However, if you have had precancerous polyps in your colon, you will need regular colonoscopy, and the frequency of these is determined by polypropylene number and size. Your doctor will be able to advise you on this.

Early detection of colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is preventable because it starts as polyps and takes years to become cancerous, if at all. If found early, 5 years of survival is 90%. Colonoscopy is a safe procedure with low incidence of complications and is recommended to be performed once every ten years, starting at age 50. With the latest advances in colonoscopy, polyps larger than 2 cm in diameter can also be safely removed by colonoscopy.

Many lives can be saved by understanding risk-risk cancer risks, increasing screening speed and making lifestyle changes. Consult your doctor to assess your fitness for colonoscopic screening if you experience symptoms such as prolonged abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, increased constipation, unexplained weight loss and a sudden change in intestinal habits.

The only proven way to prevent colorectal cancer is the early detection and removal of colon polyps before it becomes cancerous.

Infographically reviewed by Dr. Ng Kheng Hong, general and colorectal surgeon at Gleneagles Hospital


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