Screen for Colorectal Cancer

It is no secret. Colorectal cancer (or colon cancer) is the number one cancer among men and the second most common cancer among women in Singapore.

Colorectal cancer usually develops from polyps, which are growths on the inner walls of the colon and rectum. Both men and women are at risk of colorectal cancer, also known as bowel cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer.

Bowel Troubles? Or Should You Screen for Colorectal Cancer?

Holding his tummy in pain, abnormal bowel habits may be a sign of colorectal cancer.

If you noticed a change in your bowel habits, your poo could be trying to tell you something. For example, do you have persistent diarrhoea that doesn't go away? Or do you have long-term constipation despite no change in your diet or lifestyle habits?

Or perhaps you detected blood in your stools, have recurring pain in your tummy, and have been losing weight for no apparent reason. Don't ignore these signs. Consult your doctor right away.

Don't have these symptoms? Good for you! But do note that in most instances, colorectal cancer does not show any signs till the later stages.

Regular screening can help prevent colorectal cancer or reduce the risk of cancer development.

Why not opt for peace of mind and get yourself screened, especially if you fall under the higher risk age group of 50 years and above? Learn more about the risk factors of colorectal cancer.

Related: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Colorectal Cancer Kit: An Easy and Painless Test

A FIT test to test for colorectal cancer

A really simple way to find out if you may have colorectal cancer is through a stool test called FIT or Faecal Immunochemical Test. This test can detect small amounts of blood in your stool which is usually invisible to the naked eye.

If you are aged 50 years and above and do not have any symptoms of colorectal cancer, it is recommended that you do a FIT once a year. This test can be done easily, in the comfort of your home.

Each colorectal cancer screening kit comes with a stick that you can use to scrape up a small amount of stool. Collect two stool samples, each from a fresh bowel movement, over two days for a more accurate result. Simply send in the samples for testing by post within 24 hours using the pre-paid envelope that was provided to you.

Related: The ABCs of Health Screening

What If Results Are Positive?

Testing for colorectal cancer at the hospital.>

If the results are positive, it means the amount of blood in your stool is higher than normal. Blood in the stool may be from bleeding in the inner lining of the large intestine, which can be due to various reasons, including piles, polyps, infection or cancer. Further testing, for instance, involving a procedure called a colonoscopy, may be needed. Your doctor will be able to advise you.

Related: FAQs on Screening for Colorectal Cancer

Where to Take the FIT

Doctor advising a patient on the risk factors of colorectal cancer.

Now, with the enhanced Screen for Life subsidies, you can collect the FIT kit from any CHAS GP clinic for your use at home.

The fee is fixed at $5 for eligible Singaporeans and $2 for eligible CHAS cardholders. This single fee covers the cost of the screening test(s) you are eligible for and the doctor's consultation for that visit as well as the first follow-up consultation if required. Eligible Pioneer Generation cardholders do not have to pay.

Those eligible for the screening package will be informed by the Health Promotion Board through a letter of invitation. Upon receiving the invitation letter, make an appointment with your preferred CHAS GP clinic. Remember to take along the letter, your NRIC, and CHAS/PG/PA card, on your appointment date to qualify for the subsidised rate.

So, why wait? Grab a FIT kit from your nearest CHAS GP clinic or to make your visit more worth it, take it as part of the Screen for Life subsidised package. Get your family members who are at high risk of developing colorectal cancer—those above 50 years old, such as your parents—to take a FIT too.

Early detection and regular follow-up with your doctor means any treatment needed will be more effective. When it comes to health matters, it's best to get screened early.

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