Overview of Colorectal Cancer Malaysia

Like other cancers, colorectal cancer is a deadly type of cancer that affects the rectum and colon. The large intestine heavily depends on the rectum and colon to pass waste and digest food respectively. Colorectal cancer is also referred to as cancer of the bowel or colon cancer. The cancer is the second most common type of cancer in Malaysia. Colorectal cancer Malaysia is the number one cancer among Malaysian men and the third most significant cancer among Malaysian women, after uterine cervical and breast cancers.


Causes of Colorectal Cancer Malaysia

Up to date, the major cause of this disease is not fully understood despite the ongoing comprehensive research. Nevertheless, colorectal cancer is thought to consist of several factors that develop over a long period. Such factors include:

  • Family history: Individuals whose family members have had colorectal cancer (especially at a younger age) are likely to develop the disease.
  • Polyps: Studies indicate that most colorectal cancer starts in the polyp, a non-cancerous growth that occurs in the lining of the large intestine. Some polyps are dangerous and can lead to cancer.
  • Personal History: Malaysian women who have had cancer of the uterus, breast or ovary stand a higher chance to develop the disease.
  • Age: Studies indicate that colorectal cancer increases exponentially with age. In Malaysia, over 90% of the colorectal cancer cases occur in people over the age of 40.

Other factors that can cause the disease are smoking tobacco, inflammatory bowel disease, poor diet, especially that which contains too many fats and low fibers, and NSAIDS (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs). Body weight and poor choice of physical activities can also lead to colorectal cancer.

Statistics of Colorectal Cancer Malaysia

  • Colorectal cancer Malaysia is slowly rising. Compared to 2002, the disease is decreasing around 16% cases.
  • In 2003, Malaysia recorded 2552 cases of both rectal and colon cancers among men and women. Of this, 1335 (52.3%) cases were recorded among men and 1217 (47.7%) cases among women.
  • Research conducted by National Cancer Registry suggests that Chinese are the most affected by colorectal cancer Malaysia. Ideally, of all cases, Chinese come first with 59.8%, followed by Malay with 34.6%, and lastly, Indian with 5.6%.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer Malaysia

Patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer may develop certain non-specific symptoms such as:

  • Change in Bowel Habits
  • Stools with very dark or bright red blood
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Patients may also feel abdominal pain, and their stools may appear thinner. Moreover, they may be anemic, or experience an unexplained loss of appetite or weight.

When such symptoms appear prominent in your medical records, doctors are likely to perform the following tests to make a diagnosis:

Sigmoidoscopy: Also known as colonoscopy, these procedures allow cancer doctors to have a look at the inside of the large intestine. During the procedure, a surgeon would remove polyps and other tissues for examination. Imaging tests and blood tests may also be useful in diagnosing the disease.

Staging of Colorectal Cancer Malaysia

Colorectal cancer Malaysia occurs in four stages:

  • Stage I: Cancer is developing and only confined in the lining of the rectum or colon.
  • Stage II: Cancer starts to spread through the wall of the rectum and colon
  • Stage III: Cancer begins to spread to nearby lymph nodes
  • Stage IV: Cancer is in its final stage. It starts to spread to distant parts of the body like lungs and the liver.

Treatment of Colorectal Cancer Malaysia

Similar to most cancers, the treatment of colorectal is based on the extent of the disease and the specific location. The most common treatment for this disease is surgery. Doctors use surgery to remove tumors and prevent them from reaching healthy parts of the intestine and nearby lymph nodes. Depending on the extent of the disease, some patients may need a colostomy, a procedure where doctors create an opening through the abdomen to provide a pathway for the exit of waste from the body.

Chemotherapy is another treatment technique used in colorectal cancer. During this procedure, doctors use sophisticated instruments to kill cancerous cells and tumors that have spread to other parts of the body from the original spot. Studies indicate that chemotherapy significantly reduces the possibility of this cancer returning in the future. For this reason, chemotherapy is recommended even for patients with advanced stage cancer. It prolongs their lives and ensures they live comfortably. Although, it may have some side effects, they (side effects) are often short-lived and easy to manage.

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