Colon cancer rank the top cancer affecting men and the second most common cancer affecting women in Singapore. An estimation of 1,200 new cases of colon cancer are diagnosed every year. However, colon cancer is one of the most preventable and curable cancers when detected early, yet it presents few symptoms in its early stages. Don’t be a victim to it, seek a regular colon screening especially if you are 50 and above or have any of these risks.
Although most of these cancers occur in patients over 50 years old, about 6% occur in people younger than 45 years, and about 20% occur in people younger than 55 years. People should remain watchful, especially if they have other risk factors.
- Family history
The risk of colon cancer increases when one has close family members who have had colorectal cancer.
- Personal history of polyps or colorectal cancer
If you have a history of polyps or colorectal cancer, the risk of developing cancer or having it recur increases; the greater the number of polyps and the earlier the age of the first cancer, the higher the risk.
Less than 5% of such cancers are due to abnormalities in the genetic constitution of the patient.
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer
It is important to note that early stage of colon cancer may not have any symptoms at all. Symptoms also depend on the site of the cancer and how far away it is from the end of the colon. At late stages, patients with right-sided colon cancer display anemia symptoms such as feeling faint, lethargy and easily breathless. Patients with left-sided colon cancer may see changes in bowel habits, alternating constipation and diarrhoea, and stale blood in stools. Patients with rectal cancers may have the sensation of incomplete emptying of bowels. Occasionally, patients with colorectal cancer may also have general symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, bloating, mucus in stools and pain. This underscores the critical importance of knowing your risk factors and regularly screening to pick up the disease when the chance of cure is highest.
How to prevent colon cancer?
Screening for colon cancer is vital and should be done regularly from age 50. If you have a family history, talk to your doctor about beginning before age 50. Early detection means a higher chance of cure.