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Dr QM Leong
Dr QM Leong

How Common Is Colorectal Cancer? 5 Things To Know

How common is colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and can be found in the colon or rectum. The colon is the largest part of the large intestine, and the rectum connects the colon to the anus. Polyps, or growths on the colon and rectum’s inner walls, are common and are precancerous. .

Here are what you need to know about colorectal cancer:

The internal lining of the large intestine can occasionally develop polyps. A simple surgical procedure can be used to remove these lesions if they are detected early. They could potentially develop into colorectal cancer if left untreated. Doctors are conducting research to determine why these colorectal polyps develop in some individuals but not in others.

In other instances, colorectal cancer develops seemingly without cause, likely due to a family history of the disease.

Your colorectal surgeon can perform a screening to detect polyps and cancerous cells.

2. What Are The Symptoms Of Colorectal Cancer?

Colon cancer develops in the colon (large intestine) or rectum (the lower part of your large intestine, which stores stool).

Examples of colon cancer symptoms include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Alterations in stool colour or form
  • Blood in the faeces
  • Recto-rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain (Ulcerative colitis)
  • Weakness and exhaustion
  • Unexplained weight loss

In the early stages, many individuals do not exhibit any symptoms. Some symptoms may be attributable to irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease. Avoid postponing a trip to the doctor  if you are concerned.  Proper diagnosis requires a checkup.

3. Who Is At Risk Of Colorectal Cancer?

Who Is At Risk Of Colorectal Cancer

There are numerous causes for the increasing prevalence of developing colorectal cancer in Singapore and globally.

Here are the reasons why colorectal cancer is common in Singapore:

  • Family history of colorectal cancer or polyps in the colon
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Age Group of 45 and above
  • Patients with type 2 Diabetes
  • Consumes High-fat diet
  • Smokers
  • Alcoholics

4. How To Know If You Have Colorectal Cancer?

How To Know If You Have Colorectal Cancer

Regular screening makes colorectal cancer one of the most preventable and treatable cancers. Early-stage colorectal cancer cells are confined to the large intestine and, if detected and removed, can substantially reduce the risk of developing cancer.

There are several types of colorectal cancer screening tests:

  • The Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) – is an easy and convenient test that can be performed in the comfort of your home. It detects the presence of blood in faeces, which may be unnoticeable to the naked eye. The test is risk-free and should be administered annually.
  • Colonoscopy – involves the examination of the colon and rectum with a flexible fibre-optic instrument inserted into the anus. This procedure is performed by a specialist in a clinic under sedation and is advised to be performed every ten years.
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy – examines the lining of the large intestine’s lower portion. A short, flexible tube is inserted into the rectum and guided slowly into the sigmoid colon, which is the final segment of the colon before the rectum. This examination is suggested to be performed every five years.

5. How Can We Treat Colorectal Cancer?

Treatment depends on the stage of colon cancer. To determine the stage of cancer, doctors look at how deeply cancer has invaded the intestinal walls and if it has spread to lymph nodes and other organs. Based on the cancer stage, doctors will offer treatment options.

  • Colorectal surgery – The intestinal tumour and any cancerous lymph nodes around it are surgically removed. To repair the colon and rectum, it is usually necessary to sew the two ends of the colon together. A gastric bag may be necessary for some patients. However, as surgical methods advance, colostomies may become less necessary.
  • Radiation therapy – To ensure that no cancer cells have survived near the tumour site after surgery, radiotherapy is the next line of defence. It can reduce the size of a colorectal tumour before surgery when combined with chemotherapy. However, it is typically performed after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells and prevent a recurrence.
  • Chemotherapy – If cancer has spread to other organs, like the liver or lungs, chemotherapy may be used to treat the patient. In some cases, it is used after cancer surgery to further reduce the likelihood of recurrence.

Colorectal cancer treatment is most effective in its early stages. If cancer is diagnosed at stage one, the survival rates for men and women are approximately 84% and 86%, respectively. However, if cancer reaches stage four, survival rates plummet to just 10 per cent for men and 11 percent for women.

Conclusion About How Common Is Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer can be prevented and can be treated if detected early. Get a colonoscopy screening with Dr Q.M. Leong.

Dr. Q.M Leong is a colorectal surgeon in Singapore with decades of experience in his field. He specialises in treating haemorrhoids, gallbladder diseases, hernia, gastritis and many other GI diseases.

Frequently Asked Questions About
How Commonly Is Colorectal Cancer

There are a few ways to prevent colorectal cancer:

  • Regular screening
  • Having healthy eating habits
  • Exercise
  • Reducing alcohol intake

Here are the most common cancers affecting men in Singapore:

  • Colon cancer & Rectal Cancer – 6,436
  • Prostate cancer – 5,875
  • Lung cancer – 5,218

Here are the most common cancers affecting women in Singapore:

  • Breast cancer – 11,805 cases
  • Colon Cancer & Rectal cancer – 5,253 cases
  • Lung cancer – 3,074 cases

Colon polyps are small growths of cells that form on the colon’s lining. Colon polyps rarely cause any symptoms. Some polyps, however, can potentially progress into colon cancer, which can be fatal if detected at a late stage.

A recent report by the Singapore Cancer Registry revealed that, regardless of gender or ethnicity, colorectal cancer is one of the top three cancers diagnosed in Singapore.

In fact, approximately 1 in 20 Singaporeans have a lifetime risk of colorectal cancer.