Call Us +65 6261 9227
Contact Us

Colon Cancer in Women: What You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by Dr. Sim Hsien Lin, Consultant General Surgeon (Colorectal Surgery)


The colon is at the final portion of the digestive tract. Colorectal cancer is the second-most commonly diagnosed cancer among women after breast cancer. In Singapore, approximately one in seven women diagnosed with cancer between 2011 and 2015 had colorectal cancer.

Even though colon cancer can happen at any age, it commonly affects women in older age groups.

Colon cancer originates from polyps forming inside of the colon. Polyps are small, noncancerous (benign) growths that can become cancerous (malignant) over time.

What Are the Symptoms in Women?

Colon cancer is generally asymptomatic in its early stages. When the symptoms start to show up, chances of treatment is dependent on the local extent and stage of the cancer.

The symptoms of colon cancer include:

  1. A change in your bowel routines, frequency or consistency of stools
  2. You notice blood in your stools and rectal bleeding
  3. Abdominal discomforts, such as cramps and pain
  4. A sensation that you have not completely emptied your bowels
  5. Fatigue, lethargy or feeling weak
  6. Unexplained weight loss

Colon Cancer Symptoms vs Menstruation-Related Symptoms

It is common for women to confuse  symptoms of colon cancer with that of their menstrual cycle, as symptoms such as feeling weak and tired may be similar.

Oftentimes,  abdominal discomforts are mistaken for menstrual cramps. Thus, you should speak to your doctor if your lethargy is persistent and not in line with your menstrual cycle. If the symptoms feel different from what you regularly experience during your menstrual cycle, it is advisable to seek medical advice from a colorectal surgeon.

What Are the Risk Factors?

There are many lifestyle factors associated with colon cancer. However, risk factors do not necessarily mean that you will or will not get cancer. There are cases whereby people get cancer with no known factors. Some of the risks associated with colon cancer include:

  • Overweight or obesity – Weight is commonly linked to cancer. Being overweight increases your risk of developing and dying from colon cancer. It affects both females and males, but studies show that the link between being overweight and developing colon cancer is stronger in males. Maintaining a healthier weight range would lower your risk of getting colon cancer.
  • Lack of regular exercise – Not getting enough exercise increases your risk of colon cancer. It is vital to participate regularly in moderate to vigorous exercise to help lower your risk of colon cancer.
  • Unhealthy diets – Having a diet with high intake of red meats (beef, pork, or lamb) and processed meats (hotdogs and luncheon meat) increases your chances of getting colon cancer. Cooking meats at high temperatures, such as frying and grilling, creates chemicals that might increase cancer risk when they are consumed. Low levels of vitamin D intake also increases the chances of getting colon cancer. Having a healthy and balanced diet consisting of fruits and vegetables would be helpful to decrease the chances of developing colon cancer. You should have sufficient protein intake but avoid too much red, processed meat, and sugary drinks.
  • Smoking – Even though smoking is a common cause of lung cancer, it also causes other cancers. If you are a heavy smoker, you are more likely to develop colon cancer than individuals who do not smoke.
  • High alcohol intake – Moderate to high alcohol intake increases the risk of colon cancer. Individuals who drink alcohol regularly have a higher risk of developing colon cancer. It is advisable not to drink too much alcohol, but if you do, you should limit it to no more than 2 standard drinks per day.

How Is Colon Cancer Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of the individual can be conducted through colonoscopy. If any abnormalities are observed, the tissue sample of the tumour will be removed by a biopsy and sent for laboratory analysis.

Should there be cancer cells present, your doctor will conduct further tests to determine the cancer stage. There are a few stages of colon cancer.

  • Stage 0: This is called cancer in situ. The cancer cells are only in the innermost lining of colon and rectum. The cancer cells have yet to develop nor spread but only present in the innermost lining of the colon or rectum.
  • Stage 1: The tumour is starting to spread through the inner lining of the colon.
  • Stage 2: The tumour begins to grow deeper through the colon’s wall and may invade nearby structures.
  • Stage 3: The tumour spreads to nearby lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4: The tumour develops further, and cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

What Are the Treatment Options?

  • Surgery – Traditional open surgery or laparoscopy can remove the tumour with its surrounding.
  • Chemotherapy – This treatment uses drugs that enter the bloodstream and travel to the cancer cells to shrink or destroy the cancer cells.
  • Targeted cancer therapy – When colon cancer has spread to all other parts of the body, drugs or substances will be induced to target specific molecules involved in tumour growth, to stop  or reduce  the spread of colon cancer.
  • Radiation therapy – High energy rays destroy the cancer cells in affected parts of the body.


Colon cancer is one of the most preventable and curable cancers if you go for health screening regularly. During early diagnosis, the cancer cells are still confined to the large intestine and are highly treatable. Removing precancerous cells will reduce your chances of developing advanced stages of colon cancer.

Treatment is most effective at the early stages, and the survival rates for females are approximately 90% when treated early.

Dr. Sim Hsien Lin’s main sub-specialty is in colorectal surgery. In addition, her sub interests include laparoscopic colorectal surgery, transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEMS), surgical management of piles, inflammatory bowel diseases, complex anal fistulas as well as diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopic procedures.

Dr. Sim Hsien Lin

Consultant General Surgeon (Colorectal Surgery)
  • MBBS (Singapore)
  • MRCS (Edinburgh)
  • MMed (General Surgery)
  • FRCS (Edinburgh)

Dr. Sim Hsien Lin is a specialist colorectal surgeon in Singapore with over 10 years of experience in colorectal surgery. Her sub interests include laparoscopic colorectal surgery, transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEMS), surgical management of piles, inflammatory bowel diseases and complex anal fistulas.

Read Full Bio

A Dedicated and Passionate surgeon who Aspires to provide the best care

Modern Facilities

Come visit our clinic, which are equipped with modern and updated equipment, and a team that will take care of all your needs.

Accredited Specialist

Dr. Sim became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh) in 2011, winning the Gold Medal award at the FRCS Exit Examination that year.

Focused After Care

Dr. Sim firmly believes that transdisciplinary care is the key to supporting both the elderly and complex patients through their perioperative and recovery journey.

Dr. Sim’s Special Interests

Dr. Sim firmly believes that transdisciplinary care is the key to supporting both the elderly and complex patients through their perioperative and recovery journey.

Book An Appointment
  • General Surgery
  • Complex anal fistula repair
  • Transanal Endoscopic Microsurgery (TEMS)
  • Laparoscopic and open colorectal surgery
  • Management of colorectal cancers and benign colorectal diseases
  • General anorectal conditions
  • Diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopy
  • Surgical management of inflammatory bowel disease

Make an enquiry with us today!

Get Started

Please fill up this form and we’ll get back to you shortly!


    SOG - HL Sim Colorectal, Endoscopy & General Surgery

    • 38 Irrawaddy Road, #06-53
      Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
      Singapore 329563
    • Mon: 9:00AM - 5:00PM
      Tue: 9:00AM - 1:00PM
      Wed: 9:00AM - 1:00PM
      Thu: 9:00AM - 5:00PM
      Fri: 9:00AM - 12:00PM
      Sat: 9:00AM - 1:00PM
      Clinic is closed on Tuesday afternoon, Sundays and public holidays
    • T: +65 6690 4151
    • F: +65 6261 9622
    • M: +65 9657 7464
    • E: +65 6333 5550 (emergency)

    SOG - HL Sim Colorectal, Endoscopy & General Surgery (Gleneagles)

    SOG - HL Sim Colorectal, Endoscopy & General Surgery (Parkway East)

    • 319 Joo Chiat Place, #02-07
      Parkway East Medical Centre
      Singapore 427989
    • Fri: 2:00PM - 5:00PM
      (By appointment only)
    • T: +65 6690 4151
    • F:+65 6261 9622
    • M: +65 9657 7464
    • E: +65 6333 5550 (emergency)

    Related Articles

    back to top