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Common Misconceptions Singaporeans Have About Colonoscopies & Colorectal Cancer

In my years as a colorectal surgeon, I’ve heard many dangerous misconceptions about colonoscopies and colorectal cancer. These ideas confuse people and prevent them from going for screening, which only takes about 30 minutes and could very well save your life. Here are some misconceptions about colonoscopies that you should be aware of:


Myth: “Why should I go for a scope (colonoscopy)? I am healthy and have no symptoms”

Colorectal cancer starts from colon polyps, and polyps usually do not have any symptoms until they worsen or turn cancerous. During a colonoscopy, your specialist can not only detect these polyps but also remove them. This procedure generally only takes 30 minutes of your time.

Please be aware that even if you have NO SYMPTOMS, you may still have polyps that require removal, and that may turn cancerous.


Myth: “Colonoscopies are expensive”

In Singapore, you can use Medisave for colonoscopies. If you have an Integrated Shield Plan, you can speak to us to find out more about flexible payment options. Colonoscopies are not expensive, please speak to our friendly clinic staff to learn more.


Myth: “Scopes are painful, you gonna stick something up my rectum”

This can’t be further from the truth, you will be sedated the entire time, so you should not feel any pain. In most cases, you will be sleepy and comfortable during the entirety of the procedure. I have performed over 2000 colonoscopy procedures in my career as a colorectal surgeon, so you can rest assured that I know what I’m doing.


Myth: “A polyp means I have cancer.”

A polyp is a noncancerous growth that can develop anywhere in your large intestine. Over time, polyps that are not removed can develop into colon cancer.

Why do doctors keep stressing that colorectal cancer screening can prevent colon cancer? This is because of polyps removal. Polyps are easily removed during a colonoscopy by using an endoscope, a flexible tube with a tiny video camera and light at the tip, and small surgical tools. These polyps are often sent to a laboratory for testing after removal.

“Polyps are very common. At least one-quarter of people who have colonoscopies have polyps. They are the precursors to colon cancer. During a colonoscopy, your specialist is able to identify these polyps and remove them, reducing the risk of colon cancer.


Myth: “Colonoscopies are dangerous. My colon could be perforated.”

colonoscopy is a safe procedure, but in rare cases the endoscope can puncture the wall of the colon or rectum, creating a perforation. This complication usually requires surgery for treatment. The risk of perforation is less than one in every 10,000 patients or less than one-tenth of 1%.

By contrast, every day, approximately 5 Singaporeans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, which is the MOST commonly diagnosed cancer in Singapore. Don’t wait, get a colonoscopy as soon as you can if you’re above 50 years old.


Myth: “I’m a woman and less likely to get colon cancer. Colon cancer only affects men.”

Colon cancer affects both men and women at the same rate. The notion that this cancer only affects older men is simply untrue.

People often mistake colorectal cancer for prostate cancer. Women need to have colonoscopies just as regularly as men.


Conclusion

I hope you’ve found this guide helpful and I’ve helped you to understand colonoscopies and colorectal cancer better.

Regular screening and prevention can save your life, and provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones. You never know when a simple 30-minute scope can save your life. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to help.

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