The National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (NCIS) organised a health carnival, “Fighting Cancer, Living Stronger,” at Kampung Admiralty Community Plaza, featuring a significant presentation by Dr Jonathan Lee, an expert in gastroenterology and hepatology.
The carnival was held last Saturday ahead of World Cancer Day on 4 February. It highlighted new research findings that link specific gut bacteria to the development of pre-cancerous colorectal polyps.
Dr Jonathan Lee’s Research on Gut Bacteria and Colorectal Cancer
Dr. Lee unveiled findings from a study published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe in May 2023. The research involved an analysis of the gut microbiome from 971 participants. It identified specific bacterial species associated with the development of colorectal polyps, which have the potential to evolve into cancer over time. The study points to environmental factors, particularly diet and medications, as influencers on the gut environment. These subsequently impact the risk of developing colorectal cancer, a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Singapore.
Insights from the Study
The research conducted by Dr. Lee and his team observed the presence of 19 bacterial species in patients with tubular adenomas (TAs) and eight species in patients with sessile serrated adenomas (SSAs). This led to the creation of the Adenoma Microbial Dysbiosis Index, a tool that may enhance future colorectal cancer screening by including microbial testing.
The study also emphasises the effect of diet and commonly prescribed medications on the gut microbiome. It suggests that dietary patterns, particularly the consumption of high-fibre foods and the avoidance of processed meats, play a significant role in modulating the risk of colorectal cancer.
Implications for Colorectal Cancer Screening
The research findings discussed by Dr. Lee at the carnival are expected to influence future colorectal cancer screening and prevention strategies. By understanding the impact of gut bacteria on cancer development, medical professionals can better identify and manage the disease in its early stages.
Carnival Activities and Educational Outreach
The NCIS health carnival offered a broad range of activities and educational sessions to engage the public in various aspects of cancer management. Participants could learn about managing cancer-related fatigue, receive dietary advice, and participate in exercise demonstrations. The event also provided an opportunity for attendees to hear from a colorectal cancer survivor, emphasizing the importance of early detection and effective treatment.
Screening and Interactive Learning
In addition to educational talks, the carnival offered vital cancer screening opportunities. Visitors meeting certain criteria were able to collect a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) kit and register for mammogram and human papillomavirus (HPV) tests for breast and cervical cancer screening. The organisers also offered registrations for a free nose cancer screening at NUH. The event included interactive educational games and a Zumba workout session, catering to a diverse audience of all ages.
Dr. Jonathan Lee’s presentation at the NCIS health carnival provided important insights into the relationship between gut bacteria and the development of colorectal cancer. These findings could have significant implications for future screening and prevention strategies, highlighting an evolving understanding of the factors contributing to colorectal cancer. The NCIS event underscores the institute’s commitment to cancer research and public education, particularly in the realm of early detection and lifestyle factors in cancer prevention.