Colorectal Cancer Definition
- It is cancer of the colon and rectum, which makes up the last part of the gastrointestinal tract.
- The inner walls of the colon and rectum might experience the formation of Polyps, which are benign lumps and quite common amongst those 50 and above.
- There are some types of lumps that might develop into cancerous ones and need to be removed when detected.
- It is the number 1 cancer in men and number 2 in women.
Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors
- Age : elderlies > 50 are at a higher risk of colorectal cancer
- Ethnicity: Chinese have a higher risk of colorectal cancer
- Personal history: individuals who have polyps in their colon or who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer before are at higher risk of developing recurrence.
- Family history: Your risk of colorectal cancer is higher is you have a relative who suffered from it. If you have a rare inherited disease called familial polyposis - a condition where you may have hundreds of polyps in your colon , then you are almost certainly going to develop colorectal cancer later in your life
- Sedentary lifestyle and obesity have also been linked with increased risk of colorectal cancer
- Dietary habits: research has identified certain factors which can increase your risk of colorectal cancer: alcohol, processed meat and red meat increases your risk while fruits and vegetables reduces your risk.
Colorectal Cancer Warning Signs
Colorectal cancer can have no symptoms at an early stage. However, warning signs that you should look out for includes
- blood in your stool
- low blood count or anaemia
- abdominal pain or discomfort
- feeling a hard lump in your abdomen
- change in bowel habits : some people reported the motion getting thinner, others may develop constipation.
Screening for Colorectal Cancer
There are now screening tests available to detect early stage colorectal cancer for people age above 50.
They can do it via 2 ways
1) FIT kit : faecal immunochemical test
This is a simple test that detect microscopic amount of blood in your stool. This test can be done at the comfort of your home. If blood is detected in your stool then patients will be referred for further examination to exclude the possibility of cancer
This is recommended also once every 5 years for people aged 50 and above.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)