Global Health Asia-Pacific March 2022 March 2022 - Page 61

result from benign conditions like piles or diverticula . To confirm a final diagnosis , patients need to undergo a colonoscopy , an invasive procedure where a small tube with a camera is inserted through the anus to check the bowels for signs of disease .
Carrying out a colonoscopy is the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening because it can provide the most accurate diagnosis while allowing doctors to see and remove bowel polyps , small benign growths in the intestine that over time can become cancerous . “ Regular screening and removal of polyps by colonoscopy reduces risk of colorectal cancer by up to 90 percent ,” explained Dr Chew .
Another tool to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer is adopting a healthy lifestyle .
A diet rich in fruits , vegetables , and fish , while limiting alcohol and red or processed meat , can contribute to risk reduction . People should also avoid smoking , sleep at least seven hours at night , and do moderate exercise like brisk walking for about 150 minutes per week or more vigorous physical activities like weightlifting for 75 minutes weekly .
How to deal with colorectal cancer For those who get colorectal cancer , a formidable set of well-established treatments is available that can control and even cure the majority of cases . “ Treatment strategy depends on cancer stage ,” explained Dr Ng Chee Yung , Colorectal Surgeon at One Surgical Clinic & Surgery , who believes surgery has come a long way in the treatment of these malignances .
An operation is usually needed for cancers in stages one to three where the tumour is confined to the bowel or spread to nearby lymph nodes and aims to remove the cancerous mass while keeping the bowel connected and functional . Most procedures can be done in a minimally invasive way , where surgeons make small key size holes in the belly to insert surgical instruments and take the tumour out , allowing the patient to recover quickly .
Surgery can achieve a very high cure rate of 90 to 95 percent in patients with stage one and two cancers , without the need for further treatment .
Some patients with stage two cancers , however , may also need post-op chemotherapy , or drugs that stop cancer cells from dividing , to kill off any residual bits of cancer , explained Dr Zee Ying Kiat , Senior Consultant in Medical Oncology at PCC , adding that survival rates hover around 60 to 80 percent .
Chemotherapeutic drugs are usually recommended post-surgically for stage three cancers to maximise the chances of cure because the malignancy has spread to lymph nodes and is more likely to recur . In this scenario , survival rates drop further to 30 to 60 percent .
The prospects are usually bleaker for patients with advanced cancers or in the fourth stage because the malignancy has spread to several faraway organs like the liver , with the five-year survival rate being less than five percent . But patients can still benefit from palliative chemotherapy , radiation , and advanced drugs like targeted therapy and immunotherapy .
Dr Ng Chee Yung Colorectal Surgeon at One Surgical Clinic & Surgery
Dr Zee Ying Kiat Senior Consultant in Medical Oncology at PCC
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