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Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer is the most common cancer in Singapore in Men, and for both men and women combined. It occurs in the large intestine (colon) or the rectum (end of the colon), developing from the cells lining the colon/rectum. The cancer can cause blockage in the colon, and may cause bleeding from the anus. Most patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer will die from the disease if not adequately treated early enough. Yet, most of these cases are curable if they had been diagnosed early. Colorectal cancer may occur at any age. Besides age, other high risk factors include: a family history of polyps and colorectal cancer, especially so if the family member is young; a personal history of ulcerative colitis, colonic polyps or cancer(s) of other regions. Your lifetime risk for developing colorectal cancer without any other risk factors is 1 in 50 (2%).

What are the symptoms?
Many patients with colorectal cancer have none, or very few symptoms. The common symptoms of colorectal cancer are rectal bleeding and a change in bowel habits (e.g. constipation and diarrhoea). Abdominal pain, bloating, symptoms of anemia (fatigue, breathlessness, dizziness etc.) and weight loss are the other symptoms one may have. Often if symptoms start to appear, it could already be late stage, hence it is important to go for screening at the appropriate age, even if one has no symptoms.
Can Colorectal Cancer be prevented?
Nearly all colon and rectal cancer begins in benign polyps. Removal of benign polyps is an effective method to prevent progression to cancer. Examination of the colon (colonoscopy) and removal of polyps is a safe procedure that can be done on an outpatient basis, with or without sedation. It is important to note that a healthy diet is important but not enough to prevent colorectal cancer. Go for colorectal screening at age 50 if everything is well. If you have symptoms or a family history of colorectal cancer, do consult us as you may require a check earlier.
How is Minimally-Invasive Surgery (MIS) used in colorectal cancer?
The surgical removal of affected segments of the colon (colectomy) is usually required to cure colorectal cancer. Traditionally, this is done with open. With MIS, colectomy can be performed with several small incisions depending on which technique is used. Between 80-90% of patients are restored to health if the cancer is detected and treated in the early stages (Stage I & II). Often if the cancer is early, there is no need for chemotherapy or radiotherapy after surgery.
What are the benefits of MIS?
There are many benefits to choosing MIS over conventional surgery performed with open technique. As incisions are smaller, patients suffer less trauma and blood loss. This implies faster recovery as well as a lessened need for pain medication. The surgical scars are also naturally less obtrusive. Since the introduction of MIS, the technique has gained much popularity and is now well-established and frequently used for colectomy. Dr Lim is trained to perform the following forms of MIS:

  • Conventional laparoscopic “key-hole” surgery
  • Single-port laparoscopy surgery
  • Robotic-assisted surgery
What are the differences between the various forms of MIS?
Conventional laparoscopic “key-hole” surgery y involves a few small incisions on the abdomen. Two of the incisions are approximately 0.5-1cm in length, and they allow the surgeon to mobilise the colon; another incision allows the surgeon to remove the unwanted portions of the colon. In single-port laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon operates almost entirely through a single-entry point — a 25 - 30mm incision in the navel (or belly button). In robotic-assisted surgery, the surgeon performs the operation using a robot. Instead of moving the instruments directly, the surgeon controls the instruments with a telemanipulator or by computer control. With robotic-assisted surgery, there is higher precision, smaller incisions, decreased blood loss and a shorter healing time. While MIS is preferred by most patients, some may not be able to receive treatment with this technique Specialised equipment used during MIS may increase the surgery costs, though this may be offset with the reduced hospital stay. Do consult with us on which technique is suitable for you.
Contact Information
38 Irrawaddy Rd,
#08-52 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
@ Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital
Singapore 329563

Tel : +65 63347988
Fax : +65 63347966

Opening Hours:

Mondays - Fridays : 8:30 am - 5.30 pm
Saturdays : 8.30 am - 12.30 pm
Sundays & Public Holidays : Closed
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