Early detection for better outcomes

PHOTO: Early detection for better outcomes

SINGAPORE - To raise awareness on colorectal cancer - the most common cancer in Singapore - Parkway Cancer Centre (PCC) organised another series of its Walk-the-Talk outreach at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital in September.

Launched in July, the campaign saw well-known MediaCorp artistes Edmund Chen and Xiang Yun undergoing their first colonoscopy. At the latest outreach, Walk-the-Talk extended its invitation to nine NTUC U Live Health Ambassadors to participate in colorectal screening and share their own experiences about early detection through colon screening.

In his opening speech, Dr Ang Peng Tiam, Medical Director of PCC, stressed the importance of getting screened for early detection. He noted that there are 1,500 new cases of colorectal cancer every year, of which most of them are diagnosed in their advanced stage.

A polyp takes at least five years to develop into a cancerous tumour, he said, so preventive measures are key in limiting the risk of developing cancer.

His simple advice: "Opt for early detection."

One of the health ambassadors who shared his experience of undergoing a colonoscopy was 80-year-old Mr Lee Choon Kim. His parents, he said, were the reason for his decision to undergo the procedure.

"They both had stomach cancer and we didn't know they had it until it was too late; I don't want to be in that situation," he said. "I'm on a mission to encourage my friends to go for this too."

Another ambassador was Madam Susan Teo. The bubbly 57-year-old is no stranger to cancer, having been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2005. Madam Teo went through chemotherapy and a hysterectomy, and has been in remission for six years. She credited early colorectal screening as the reason for her survival.

"Because of the early colorectal screening, I went for an MRI scan only to find out that I had Stage I ovarian cancer. If I hadn't gone for it, things would be different," she said.

Asked what it was like to undergo the screening again, she said she felt more reassured than anxious. She said: "The oncologists and staff here are really taking care of us - there isn't anything for us to worry about. Besides, prevention is always better than cure, so I hope others will take time to go for this as it's best to get to the problem early."