Colonoscopy & Sigmoidoscopy

Colorectal cancer is the most common cancer affecting both males and females in Singapore and most developed countries. The Ministry of Health Singapore has advised that anyone above the age of 50 years should undergo colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening. Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy are useful evaluation tests in the screening for colorectal cancer, and can be therapeutic when removing colonic polyps. Early colonic polyp removal can prevent the progression of colon cancer.

Colonoscopy Test & Sigmoidoscopy Procedure

Colonoscopy test and sigmoidoscopy procedure are colorectal cancer screening tests, which help doctors to see the inner parts of the digestive system, including large intestine (colon) and rectum. However, Colonoscopy test and Sigmoidoscopy procedure differs slightly

Colonoscopy Test

A colonoscopy test is typically a 30-minute examination in which a doctor examines the rectum and entire colon for any signs and symptoms of cancer (these signs could either be small or large polyps). It is important to note that polyps are small growths which may turn into malignant tumors.

A colonoscopy test is generally done every 5 to 10 years for low risk or normal patients. However, each patient needs to consult with a doctor on how often they need to get the test done. If a patient is at high risk of developing tumors in the large intestine (colon), the doctor may advise to perform colonoscopy test more frequently and starting at a younger age compared to other patients, who are at a lower risk.

Sigmoidoscopy Procedure

Sigmoidoscopy procedure is also a colon screening test, which is similar to the previously discussed colonoscopy. The difference between the tests is that the sigmoidoscopy procedure specifically checks the rectum, and the sigmoid colon (the left side of the large intestine

If the Sigmoidoscopy procedure results are positive; indicating the presence of polyps in the rectum, doctors will then perform the colonoscopy test to check for more polyps in the rest of the colon

The Importance of Colonoscopy Test & Sigmoidoscopy Procedure

Both Colonoscopy test and Sigmoidoscopy procedure help to detect colon cancer in its earlier stages. They are used to evaluate patients with rectal bleeding, change in bowel habits, abdominal discomfort/pain and unexplained weight loss.

They can decrease the risk of colon cancer directly and indirectly, as follows:

  • Direct effect of Colonoscopy and Sigmoidoscopy tests
    • As the colon and rectum of a patient are examined, your doctor may discover small polyps. These polyps can be removed by using the Colonoscope or Sigmoidoscope instruments. If large polyps (or any abnormal tissues) were found, your doctor will take parts of them to test them for cancer.
    • It is worth mentioning that an early detected cancer has higher chances of treatment and recovery. Small colonic polyps are easier to get rid of than larger ones. Furthermore, early detection of cancer helps to localize cancer and may even prevent its metastasis or spread to other tissues and organs
  • Indirect effect of Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy tests
    • Early detection of signs or traces of colon cancer can help your doctor to prevent further development of the disease by paying attention to the patient’s diet and lifestyle.

If you are above 50 years of age, do consult your doctor to discuss colonoscopy evaluation to screen for colorectal cancer