Is Fear Of The Unknown Keeping You Away From A Potentially Life-Saving Colonoscopy Procedure?

Is Fear Of The Unknown Keeping You Away From A Potentially Life-Saving Colonoscopy Procedure?

Is fear keeping you away from a colonoscopy procedure?

A colonoscopy is an examination of the inside of your colon using a colonoscope – a thin, flexible tube with a camera fixed to one end of the tube. A colonoscopy procedure once every 10 years is recommended by medical experts for people over the age of 50, who are at average risk of colorectal cancer. According to the Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report 2020, colorectal cancer is the most common form of cancer for men in Singapore, and the second most common for women. With early detection of the cancer, the chances of successful treatment are much higher.

The “gold standard” for colorectal cancer screening is the colonoscopy procedure. However, the proportion of colorectal cancer incidences that are detected at an early stage is substantially lower in Singapore than in South Korea, The Straits Times reports. Why is the uptake of colonoscopy lagging in Singapore?

If you are a good candidate for a colonoscopy screening (aged 50 and above, or have a history of colorectal diseases), but are hesitating due to unfamiliarity with the procedure, read on as we explain what the process involves.

Preparing For A Colonoscopy Procedure

The following occurs prior to the procedure:

  • Consultation with a gastrointestinal doctor who will explain the procedure, key indicators, risks, and other alternatives.
  • Arrange for someone who can help you home you will be sedated during the procedure.
  • 2 days before the procedure, refrain from eating solid food and fruits. Instead, eat foods that are low in fibre.
  • 1 day before the procedure, all doses of a laxative prescribed by the doctor have to be taken. This is to purge the intestines of any residue. Frequent diarrhoea is to be expected.
  • Abstain from taking any liquid and food at least 6 – 8 hours before the procedure.
  • On the day of the procedure, the medical team will evaluate your readiness before starting the procedure.

The Colonoscopy Procedure

During the colonoscopy procedure:

  • You will lie on your left side in a fetal position.
  • You will be sedated. A pain-killer may also be administered.
  • The colonoscope will be inserted by the doctor into the rectum, and the doctor will start examining the colon.
  • The doctor may remove tissue samples for biopsy if an abnormality or evidence of gastrointestinal disease is found. Small growths can also be removed if detected.
  • The procedure should take less than 30 minutes.
  • After the procedure, you will be brought to a recovery room for 1 – 2 hours for observation, or until you are fully awake.
  • The doctor or medical team will explain to you the colonoscopy results.
  • You must refrain from driving or working on the day of the procedure.

To Boldly Go…

While there may be valid reasons not to undergo a colonoscopy, fear of the “unknown” should not be why you deprive yourself of a potentially life-saving screening. Consult your doctor about your suitability to undergo a colonoscopy.


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This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.