The risk of colon cancer is relatively low in the younger age group. Therefore most screening programs target people from the age of 50 and above. This assumes that you are at AVERAGE risk - with no predisposing factors such as:
Family history of Colon Cancer or Polyps - the risk of colon cancer doubles with one family member affected, and can be much higher if the individual is suffering from a genetic cancer syndrome such as LYNCH SYNDROME or FAMILIAL ADENOMATOUS POLYPOSIS.
Personal history of colon cancer or polyps - The presence of a previous cancer or polyp significantly increases the risk of further growths developing in the colon. Colorectal Cancer is the most common cancer in Singapore with an incidence similar to that seen in developed Western countries. Most colorectal cancers develop from a pre-existing lesion known as an adenomatous polyp. Over time, genetic mutations occur in the polyp causing the cells to become more aggressive and invade the surrounding tissues. Screening is aimed at detecting and removal of these precancerous polyps thus preventing the subsequent onset of cancer.
Who should be screened?
Personal history of other cancers - breast or gynecological cancers can be associated with colon cancer as part of a cancer syndrome.
Presence of Bowel Symptoms - bleeding, change in consistency and pattern of bowel motions such as diarrhea or constipation, and abdominal pain are common in colon cancer. Such symptoms should always be carefully evaluated by a trained physician.
Longstanding Inflammatory Bowel Disease - this condition is rare in Asians but more common in Caucasians.