Colorectal cancer the second most common cancer in Malaysia; however can be prevented with early screening


Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in Malaysia but advances in health technology means that it can be detected through early screening.

This was the message conveyed by Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur (PHKL) when it hosted the ‘Colorectal Cancer Awareness Health Forum’ recently.

Dato’ Dr. Meheshinder Singh, Organising Chairman, Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur, said: “Public must know who, when and how to do colorectal cancer screening. Men above 45 are encouraged to do colorectal cancer screening for the doctor to advice on what is right for them. As for today, we provide free Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) that can detect early signs of bowel cancer for the participants. This is how we show our commitment towards preventing colorectal cancers among Malaysians – this is how we unite against colorectal cancer. It should be highlighted here that dietary plan and exercise are important for better colon health.”

Colorectal cancer has a few stages: Stage 0 (cancer cells are only in the mucosa, or the inner lining of the colon or rectum); Stage 1: (growth through the mucosa and muscle of the colon or rectum are invaded); Stage 2 (tumour has gone through wall of the colon or rectum; or muscle lining the abdomen; or nearby structures); Stage 3 (cancer is in inner lining or muscle layers of intestine or spread to 4 or more lymph nodes, or nodules of tumour cells are in structures near colon) and stage 4 (spread to one other part of the body, such as the liver or lungs).

The survival rate of people with colon cancer at stage 1 is 92%, and 11% at stage 4. Meanwhile, the survival rate of people living rectal cancer at stage 1 is 87% and stands at 12% at stage 4.

Some of the early warning signs of colorectal cancer are: weight loss, cramp/pain in the stomach, weakness and fatigue; blood-darkened stool; the sensation of bowel movement not relieved with defecation as well as changes in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation and thinner stools).

There are several risk factors that can lead to colorectal cancer: age (most people living with the illness are 50 and above), diet (over-consumption of red meat and processed meat and low fibre intake); obesity; smoking and family history.