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Colon cancer is the most common cancer in males in Singapore, and the second most common amongst females. Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestines. The rectum is part of the large intestine, and as such, the term colorectal cancer is sometimes also used.

1.    Age

    • According to data from the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, 90% of colorectal cancers occur in people over 40 years of age. The risk of developing colorectal cancer then doubles every ten years.

2.    Family history of colorectal cancer

    • A family history of colorectal cancer or colon polyps increases the risk of colon cancer. Some types of colorectal cancer are hereditary.

3.    Personal history of colonic polyps

4.    Inflammatory Bowel Disease

    • History of Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s disease

5.    Associated cancers

    • Breast cancer and uterine cancer is sometimes associated with colorectal cancer
  1. Bleeding from the rectum is the most common symptom.
  2. Change in the bowel pattern
  3. Abdominal pain
  4. Weight loss
  5. Loss of appetite.
  6. Asymptomatic
    • There is a significant group of patients who do not have any symptoms.

Bleeding from the rectum during defecation is a very common symptom. Because bleeding can be due to piles, which is another common condition, many patients ignore it. This can be dangerous, as it is not possible to distinguish between piles and colorectal cancer unless special tests are performed. Because some patients have no symptoms, screening on a regular basis is also advised.

The best form of treatment for colorectal cancer is surgery. During surgery, the cancer, and the affected lymph nodes and organs are removed.

Other treatment methods for colorectal cancer include chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Most colorectal cancers arise from colon polyps. Early detection and removal of these pre-cancerous polyps by colonoscopy can prevent cancer from developing.

Screening is also useful, as polyps and cancers can both be detected early, and this improves the disease outcome significantly.

 

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