Colorectal cancer is a significant and potentially life-threatening medical condition. It is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer worldwide including Singapore, with a substantial impact on public health.
Patient awareness about colorectal cancer is pivotal for early detection, informed decision-making, and optimal recovery. Let us explore the importance of patient awareness regarding colorectal cancer surgery in Singapore, shedding light on the vital aspects of your well-being.
Incidence of Colorectal Cancer in Singapore
According to statistics from Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report 2021, colorectal cancer is among the most diagnosed cancer and cause of cancer death.
*Image source: Singapore Cancer Registry
Early detection through screening and awareness of risk factors can play a crucial role in preventing and effectively treating this disease. Screening colonoscopy is extremely important in preventing and detecting early colorectal cancer.
Importance of Patient Awareness
Colorectal cancer risk factors include age, with most cases occurring after 50, and family history or genetic predisposition, such as Lynch syndrome or FAP. Personal history of colorectal cancer or certain polyps, as well as inflammatory bowel diseases especially ulcerative colitis may elevate the risk. Dietary choices, particularly diets rich in red and processed meats and low in fibre, fruits, and vegetables, are linked to increased susceptibility. Unhealthy lifestyle habits including physical inactivity, obesity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption play a role.
Your awareness of these specific factors empowers you to lead healthier lifestyles and reduce their risk of developing colorectal issues.
Colorectal cancer commonly presents with symptoms like persistent changes in bowel habits (such as diarrhoea or constipation), rectal bleeding, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, abdominal pain or cramps, and anaemia due to blood loss.
Detecting and addressing these specific symptoms promptly is crucial, as it can significantly impact the effectiveness of treatment. Early detection leads to better treatment outcomes.
Colorectal cancer screening guideline in Singapore recommend starting regular screenings starting at age 50 for individuals at average risk, utilizing methods like colonoscopy every 10 years, flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or faecal immunochemical test (FIT) annually. CT colonography is also an alternative every 5 years. Personal and family history, as well as specific risk factors, may necessitate individualized screening plans.
However, the gold standard in colorectal cancer screening is colonoscopy. This procedure involves the insertion of a flexible tube with a camera into the colon to directly visualize its lining, detect precancerous polyps, and potentially remove them during the same procedure. Colonoscopy is highly effective for both screening and prevention (by removing polyps), making it a preferred choice.
Colorectal Cancer Surgery in Singapore
Advanced Medical Facilities:
Singapore boasts advanced medical facilities with the latest technology for diagnosing and treating colorectal conditions. From diagnostics to surgery, patients can access top-notch care in both public and private hospitals.
Advanced endoscopic polypectomy
Advanced endoscopic polypectomy is a minimally invasive technique used to remove large or complex polyps (abnormal growths) using an endoscope equipped with specialized tools, such as snares, forceps, and electrocautery devices. This maybe suitable for precancerous or very early colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer surgery is a critical element in the comprehensive treatment of colorectal cancer, aiming to remove cancerous tissue while striving for a complete cure. The surgery is tailored to several critical factors such as the cancer’s location, stage, and the patient’s medical history. The primary objective of surgery is to perform a resection, which entails removing the tumour along with a portion of healthy surrounding tissue to ensure that no cancer cells remain. During surgery, nearby lymph nodes are routinely removed to assess whether cancer has spread, informing the cancer’s stage, and guiding further treatment decisions.
Minimally invasive techniques have become common practice, with laparoscopy and robotic-assisted surgery offering benefits such as smaller incisions, quicker recovery times, and reduced post-operative discomfort.
Colorectal Cancer Surgery Preparation and Recovery
Before surgery, patients need to follow their surgeon’s instructions, which may include dietary modifications and bowel preparation. Adhering to these guidelines ensures a smoother surgical experience.
After surgery, patients enter a period of recovery, the duration of which varies depending on the extent of the procedure and their overall health. While temporary changes in bowel habits may occur, most individuals can eventually resume a normal lifestyle.
Caregivers training will be provided before discharge from hospital if it’s needed.
Adjuvant chemotherapy after surgery maybe recommended for individuals with more advanced stages (Stage III and IV), lymph node involvement, certain tumour characteristics, or other high-risk factors that increase the likelihood of cancer recurrence.
All colorectal cancer cases need to be follow-up appointments for 5 years to ensure no cancer recurrence. Routine investigations may include CT scan, colonoscopy and blood test.
Colorectal cancer awareness is a cornerstone of preventive healthcare in Singapore. Individuals should actively seek information about risk factors, symptoms, and screening guidelines to take charge of their colorectal health.
With advanced medical facilities, experienced surgeons, and various surgical options at Crest Surgical Practice, you get a relaxed environment for effective treatments.
By staying informed, patients can make informed decisions, detect issues early, and work collaboratively with healthcare professionals to achieve the best possible outcomes. Remember, knowledge is the key to empowering your colorectal health journey. If you want more information about Colorectal cancer surgery in Singapore, contact us to schedule a meeting with one of our expert surgeons!