Call Us

Contact Us

Sigmoidoscopy vs. Colonoscopy: Which Screening Test Is Right for You?

young asian woman sitting in a hospital bed

Colorectal cancer is a significant health concern worldwide, including in Singapore. Screening for colorectal cancer is essential for early detection and prevention. Two common screening tests used are sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. Understanding the differences between these procedures is crucial for individuals to make informed decisions about their colorectal cancer screening options.

Understanding Sigmoidoscopy and Colonoscopy

Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy are both endoscopic procedures that involve inserting a flexible tube with a camera into the rectum to examine the colon and rectum. The primary difference lies in the extent of the colon examined during the procedure.

  • Sigmoidoscopy: This procedure examines only the lower part of the colon, including the rectum and sigmoid colon.
  • Colonoscopy: Colonoscopy provides a comprehensive examination of the entire colon and rectum, allowing for the detection of abnormalities throughout the entire colorectal area.

Benefits of Sigmoidoscopy

Sigmoidoscopy offers several benefits that make it an attractive option for colorectal cancer screening:

  • Less Invasive: Sigmoidoscopy is generally less invasive than colonoscopy since it examines only the lower part of the colon. This can result in reduced discomfort and a shorter recovery time for patients.
  • Lower Risk of Complications: Due to its limited scope, sigmoidoscopy carries a lower risk of complications such as perforation or bleeding compared to colonoscopy.

Considerations for Sigmoidoscopy

Despite its benefits, sigmoidoscopy has some limitations and considerations:

  • Limited Coverage: Sigmoidoscopy only examines the lower portion of the colon, leaving the upper part unexamined. While it can detect abnormalities in the sigmoid colon and rectum, it may miss lesions or polyps in the rest of the colon.
  • Need for Additional Screening: Individuals who undergo sigmoidoscopy may need to undergo additional screening tests, such as fecal occult blood testing or CT colonography, to evaluate the entire colon for abnormalities.

Benefits of Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy offers several advantages that make it a preferred screening test for colorectal cancer:

  1. Comprehensive Evaluation: Colonoscopy provides a comprehensive examination of the entire colon and rectum, allowing for the detection of abnormalities throughout the entire colorectal area.
  2. Polyp Removal: During colonoscopy, polyps can be detected and removed immediately, reducing the risk of colorectal cancer development.

Considerations for Colonoscopy

Despite its benefits, colonoscopy has some considerations that individuals should be aware of:

  • Higher Cost: Colonoscopy screening typically involves higher costs compared to sigmoidoscopy due to its comprehensive nature and longer duration.
  • Preparation Challenges: Colonoscopy requires thorough bowel preparation, which involves fasting and taking laxatives to empty the colon. This preparation process can be challenging for some individuals.

Choosing the Right Screening Test

When deciding between sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy screening, several factors should be considered:

  • Age and Risk Factors: Individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors may benefit from the comprehensive evaluation provided by colonoscopy.
  • Personal Preferences: Some individuals may prefer the less invasive nature of sigmoidoscopy, while others may prioritize the comprehensive evaluation offered by colonoscopy.
  • Healthcare Provider Recommendation: Healthcare providers can provide guidance based on individual risk factors, preferences, and medical history to help patients make informed decisions about their screening options.

Colonoscopy Screening in Singapore

In Singapore, where colorectal cancer is a significant health concern, colonoscopy screening is widely available and recommended for individuals aged 50 and above, as well as those with increased risk factors. The Singapore Ministry of Health promotes regular colorectal cancer screening through various initiatives, including subsidized screening programs and public education campaigns.


Both sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy are valuable screening tests for colorectal cancer, each with its own set of benefits and considerations. In Singapore’s healthcare setting, individuals should discuss their screening options with their healthcare providers to determine the most suitable test based on their individual risk factors, preferences, and medical history. 

By understanding the differences between sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy and considering their unique advantages, individuals can make informed decisions about their colorectal cancer screening, ultimately leading to improved health outcomes and reduced disease burden in Singapore.

Introducing Curasia Endoscopy Centre

Our host, Jerald Foo, will be taking you to our first centre at Jurong East.

Make An Enquiry

Leave us your details and we’ll get back to you shortly.
Prefer to talk? Call our clinic directly to make an enquiry at +65 6679 1229

or Whatsapp us at +65 9750 8783

We are available 24 hours

Let's Get in Touch!

Clinic Details

Other Related Articles

Curasia Endoscopy

Call Us

Contact Us