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Push to detect colorectal cancer early

MORE will be done by the health authorities to make sure those at risk for colorectal cancer have access to early screening.
The Straits Times - March 4, 2013
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Push to detect colorectal cancer early

MORE will be done by the health authorities to make sure those at risk for colorectal cancer have access to early screening.

The latest figures released by the National Registry of Diseases show a rise in the number being struck by the disease. A total of 8,459 new cases of the cancer were diagnosed between 2007 and 2011, up from the 8,206 from 2006 to 2010, figures released on Wednesday showed.

The Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) is hoping to check this trend by telling more people about the disease through its 12th Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month this month.

As part of this year's campaign, the society is aiming to distribute 65,000 free do-it-yourself (DIY) test kits, 5,000 more than it gave away last year. Themed "Don't flush away early detection that could save your life", those aged 50 and above are advised to get screened. One quick and convenient method is through a DIY faecal occult blood test (FOBT) kit, which tests for blood found in stool and which can detect the disease at an early stage.

General practitioners will also be actively engaged through a forum that aims to help them better understand the types of screening available to people, and also how to identify early symptoms and high-risk patients for screening.

Colorectal cancer is the most common cancer in Singapore men and the second most in women here. Incidence rates are highest among Chinese.

But more have been coming forward for FOBT screening. About 24,600 people took the test last year, more than double the number in 2006.

However, there is still work to be done, said SCS chief executive Albert Ching. "We are only reaching a very small fraction of the 1.17 million Singapore residents who are above the age of 50 years."

Cancer survivor Robert Hoo, 71, will agree. He said: "I'm very grateful that my cancer was detected at an early stage. If I had just gone for my regular check-up once every two years, without using the FOBT, it might have been too late for me."

The FOBT kits will be available to the public for free at the SCS, Guardian stores, polyclinics, hospitals and roadshows starting this month.

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