Ingestion and egestion are part of our daily activities but we often also take it for granted as well. Yet an impairment of these simple acts would severely affect the quality of one’s life.
Our colons and rectums function to clear waste from our body, and often overseeing these acts can lead to problems, including:
- Presence of bleeding in the stool
- Digestive problems such as the bloating of stomach
- Or it can be as major as a Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer, which is the cancer of the large intestine, consisting of the colon and rectum, is currently the number 1 cancer in Singapore. In the early stages, patients affected by colorectal cancer may not experience any symptoms, but in its advanced stages, colorectal cancer can cause intestinal blockage and rectal bleeding. Rectal bleeding due to colorectal cancer can also easily be mistaken for bleeding haemorrhoids or piles.
There are several steps that one can take to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer:
- Regular colonic screening can reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- We also know that colorectal cancer starts from polyps in the colon; an abnormal growth of tissue projecting from a mucous membrane, which are initially benign. Undergoing a colonoscopy can remove the polyps.
- Colorectal cancer, if detected early, can be removed via surgery.
We should not neglect the importance of our colorectal health; in fact here are some tips that one can take to maintain their colorectal health:
- Always have a balanced diet with adequate water, fruits and vegetables.
- If you are bothered by any abdominal symptoms, such as bloating, weight loss, constipation, change in bowel habits or blood in your stools, seek advice from a doctor.
- If you are 50 years old and have no symptoms and no risk factors, such as having no family history of colorectal cancer, you should go for a colorectal screening. There are several methods of screening, such as Stool Occult Blood test, Colonoscopy, Barium enema etc. It is best to discuss with your doctor the pros and cons of the various screening methods.
- If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, especially if the family member who had colorectal cancer is young, below 40-50 years old, you may need screening earlier.
- If you discover blood in your stools, don’t assume it is just piles or haemorrhoids. It is highly advisable for you to see a doctor who will assess and advise you accordingly.
Knowing that colorectal cancer can be prevented, my passion has always been to raise awareness on maintaining one’s colorectal health and treating colorectal problems. My reason for specializing in colorectal surgery was because our digestive system is fascinating and essential to our body; though it is not a popular surgical specialty, unlike plastic surgery or neurosurgery; but with the high incidence of colorectal cancer in Asia, we should not neglect the importance of colorectal surgery.
Today’s guest post on caring for our colorectal health is by Dr Bernard Lim, General Surgeon, specializing in general and colorectal surgery. He also treats and manages piles and haemorrhoids.
Dr Lim’s passion is in maintaining his patient’s colorectal health and treating their colorectal problems, to ensure their intestinal tracts carry out their functions. In addition, Dr Lim has a keen interest in minimally invasive colorectal surgery. He uses the latest Da Vinci Robotic Surgical System Platform to perform various colorectal surgeries. Dr Lim was also trained in advanced minimally invasive surgery, and he has performed hundreds of colon and rectal surgeries in his professional career.