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Colorectal Cancer: Number One Common Cancer In Men, Second For Women, Expected To Increase In Malaysia

Did you know that colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) is the most common cancer in men and number two cancer in women, second after breast cancer in Malaysia?

In light of this, Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur (PHKL) hosted the Wear It Blue Forum yesterday, aimed to raise awareness about the prevalence of colorectal cancer amongst Malaysians, as due to economic burden it is likely to increase over time in Malaysia owing to the current trend in latest cases. With “Together We Stand Against Colorectal Cancer,” as the essence of the forum, the attendees, which consisted of members of the public and medical practitioners, highlighted on the importance of screening and early detection of colorectal cancer in hopes of beating the silent killer. “Colorectal cancer is a major public health concern. It is unfortunate that most cases of Colorectal Cancer present to us in the later stages of the disease,” Dato’ Dr Meheshinder Singh, Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeon at PHKL, President of the Malaysia Society of Colorectal Surgeons (MSCRS) and Past President and Founder of Colorectal Cancer Survivorship Society Malaysia (CORUM) shared with the attendees yesterday. “Colorectal cancer is highly preventable and curable if detected in its early stages. It is troubling that so much of energy and expense are devoted to the cure and treatment of colorectal cancer but so little time and money are spent on screening for polyps and early cancer.”

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The forum was also attended by Encik Ahmad Zaki, a colorectal cancer survivor, who shared his journey of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer and further emphasised on the importance of early detection and screening. The second annual report by the Malaysian National Cancer Patient Registry – Colorectal Cancer, revealed there were 21.3 cases per 100,000 in Malaysia between the years of 2008 and 2013 – in which half of those cases resulted in death. While screening and early detection are key to beat colorectal cancer, lifestyle plays an important role as well, as previously shared by consultant colorectal and laparoscopic surgeon Dr Paul Selvindoss. “As more Malaysians can afford to eat more red meat and choose diets with less fibre (fruits and vegetables), we have seen an increase in colorectal cancer cases over the past years,” he told The Star, adding colorectal cancer screening is important once an adult approaches the age of 50.

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According to, some of the symptoms of colorectal cancer include ongoing change in bowel movement; blood traces in stool; rectal bleeding; unknown weight loss; frequent gas pain; and bloating. However, symptoms may vary according to the severity which is dependent on the cancer’s location in the colon, size and growth. “If a person is experiencing bloody stools or has a sudden change in bowel movements that lasts more than three weeks (diarrhoea or constipation), it is important to seek consultation from a physician quickly,” Dr Paul advised.

While the causes of colorectal cancer remains unclear, stated that colorectal cancer occurs when healthy cells in the colon encounter errors in their DNA, whereby the damaged cells becomes cancerous yet continues to divide which subsequently accumulates into a tumor. Malaysians who exhibit potential symptoms of colorectal cancer are advised to seek prompt screening and treatment from their nearest clinic or hospital. – Malaysian Digest