Getting A Colonoscopy: Why It Matters And When To Take It
Although it typically affects older individuals, colorectal cancer can happen to just about anyone and at any age. In Singapore, colorectal cancer remains one of the most common cancers among men. As in its name, this type of cancer occurs in the digestive system, specifically the colon and rectum.
Thankfully, just like any other disease, colorectal cancer can be managed and cured if detected early through specialised exams known as colonoscopies. Read on to learn more about this type of cancer screening and why it matters to take them regularly.
Why is a colonoscopy necessary?
A colonoscopy is a medical examination to investigate any abnormal symptoms that arise from the patient’s colon and rectum. The goal of a colon exam or colonoscopy is to detect any abnormalities in the gut, including cancer. This is because colorectal cancer develops from small growths (colon polyps). While usually harmless, these growths can become cancerous over time.
With the help of a colon exam, early detection of these potentially cancerous growths becomes possible. Coupled with immediate treatment, the success rate of being fully cured is promising. If left undetected and the disease advances to its later stages, the cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body. In such a case, treatment becomes more difficult and limited to merely relieving the symptoms for a better quality of life.
How do I identify the warning signs of colorectal cancer?
Investigating the warning signs or symptoms with a colonoscopy would help steer clear of the development of colorectal cancer. While many of these overlap with the symptoms of other less serious diseases, it’s advised not to discount the possibility of cancer, especially when one experiences more than one of the following and over a prolonged period.
- Abdominal pains
- Blood in stools
- Chronic fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
- Change in bowel movement, typically alternating between constipation and diarrhoea
- Feeling of incomplete bowel emptying
When should I go for a colonoscopy?
Generally speaking, colon cancer typically develops at an older age and is uncommon among those below 50 years. However, there are colon cancer risk factors could lead to developing the disease even at a young age, such as a family history of colorectal cancer.
Once you reach about fifty years of age, you should start colonoscopy screening. Typically, if your first colonoscopy screen offers a negative result and you have no family history of colorectal cancer, subsequent screenings can be done at least once in ten years. You can consider to perform the colonoscopy early if you have a family history of colon cancer.
But, it’s advised to check with a medical professional on the suggested colonoscopy intervals for your condition. When consulting your doctor about colon exams, it is also advisable to inquire about colon cancer treatment costs to gain information and prepare accordingly, should the need arise.
Cancer can take on any form and arise from several different areas in the body, including our gut. Since there is always a possibility to prevent them from worsening and causing more harm to our health, leading to a lower quality of life, it is pivotal to detect them as early as possible with the aid of regular colon screenings.