Immediate family members of colorectal cancer patients have a higher risk of developing the cancer than the general public. However, a study led by Dr Tan Ker Kan from the Department of Surgery found that they are not aware of this heightened risk, or that they should undergo screening earlier. These first-degree relatives – such as children, siblings and parents – were also unaware that they should have a colonoscopy to screen for the cancer, and not the more common, and less effective faecal occult blood test.
Dr Tan advised that first-degree relatives of colorectal cancer patients should go for a colonoscopy at 50 years of age or 10 years prior to the case involving the youngest patient in the family, whichever is earlier.
In Singapore, colorectal cancer is the most common cancer for men and the second most common cancer for women. Five people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and two die of it each day.