Colorectal-cancer cases on the rise

PHOTO: Colorectal-cancer cases on the rise

SINGAPORE - Colorectal-cancer cases are on the rise, with 8,206 cases diagnosed over five consecutive years ending in 2010, according to findings revealed yesterday.

This is a nearly 4 per cent increase from the 7,909 cases diagnosed from 2005 to 2009.

Also, nine in 10 diagnosed with the cancer of the large intestine between 2006 and 2010 were aged 50 and above.

These statistics, from the Singapore Cancer Registry Interim Report, were highlighted yesterday at a media conference for the 11th Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Associate Professor Tang Choong Leong, head of Singapore General Hospital's department of colorectal surgery, said there are many reasons for the rise in colorectal cancer.

But diet could be a contributing factor for the cancer, which has the highest number of diagnosed cases for men and women combined.

"When people take a lot of red meat and very little fruit and vegetables, it increases the risk of cancer," said Prof Tang.

He added that the chance of getting colorectal cancer increases significantly for people aged 50 and above, so more cases will likely surface as Singapore's population ages.

Despite the increase in cases, the incidence of colorectal cancer per 100,000 people in a year fell slightly by 1.4 points to hit 39.7 for males for 2006 to 2010, compared to the five-year period before.

The rate for females also fell 1.2 points to 28.1.

But Prof Tang said that it is too early to tell if this signals the start of a fall in colorectal-cancer rates, noting that more studies have to be done.

As there are no symptoms in the early stages of colorectal cancer, experts said regular screening can help to detect the disease early.

Statistics show that those diagnosed at stage one of the cancer have an 80 per cent chance of surviving for at least five years. This drops to 7 per cent when diagnosis is done at stage four.

People aged 50 and above are also encouraged to undergo the Faecal Occult Blood Test annually which involves collecting a stool sample and sending it to the Singapore Cancer Society for tests.

The society will refer those who tested positive to a hospital for check-ups.

As part of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the society is holding two roadshows and working with polyclinics and Guardian retail stores to distribute the stool test kits.

Public forums on colorectal cancer will also be held at the end of next month.

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