Beacon Hospital Hotline
Colorectal cancer is a common type of cancer among men and women in Malaysia. Public awareness of the rising incidence of colorectal cancer and the participation rates for colorectal cancer screening is still low. In 2018, there were 10.2% new colorectal cancer cases and 9.2% deaths cases reported globally (International Agency for Research on Cancer, WHO).
Colon cancer happens when unusual or in the long run malignant cells develop in the tissues of the large intestines known as the colon and rectum. Collectively, these malignant tumours are defined as colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer symptoms may be minor or non-existent during the early stages of the disease, although there may be some early warning signs.
Early warning signs of colorectal cancer symptoms:
- Rectal bleeding, either bright or dark red in color
- Narrow stools
- Tenesmus, which is the feeling that you have to empty your bowel but nothing passes
- Anemia caused by iron deficiency
- Persistent abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight loss
In its advanced stages, symptoms of colorectal cancer may include:
- Appetite loss
- Uncontrolled weight loss
- Deterioration of physical condition
Certain conditions make an individual more susceptible to developing colorectal cancer. Factors that increase your risk may indicate that you may need to be careful about developing colorectal cancer but does not necessarily mean that you will develop the disease.
Risk factors that are associated with the development of colorectal cancers include:
- Personal history of polyps or colorectal cancer
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- History of inflammatory bowel cancer
- Family history of breast, ovary or uterus cancer
- Eating a diet that is high in red meat, processed meat, fat and low in fiber
- Smoking and drinking alcohol
- Genetic factors
Screening for colorectal cancer of the general population is used to detect cancer before there are any symptoms. An individual who attends to colorectal cancer screening needs to see a specialist to ascertain the risk with full clinical and physical examination. Our specialist will identify the risk and determine the level of follow up required.
Our colorectal cancer specialist uses a variety of tests and tools designed for diagnosing colorectal cancer, evaluating the disease and planning your individualized treatment. Diagnostic tests include:
- Fecal occult blood testing (which detects blood in the stool) – To detect occult blood or byproducts of degraded blood (blood that cannot be seen with the naked eye) in the stools.
- Sigmoidoscopy – To examine the lower part of the colon.
- Colonoscopy – To examine the entire colon from the inside.
Staging of Colorectal Cancer
Stage I – Cancer is confined to the inner lining of the colon or rectum.
Stage II – Cancer spreads through the wall of the colon or rectum.
Stage III – Cancer spreads to nearby lymph nodes.
Stage IV – Cancer spreads to distant parts of the body, such as the liver or lungs.
Like most cancers, the treatment of colorectal cancer will be determined by the explicit location and degree of the disease.
- Surgery– The most common treatment for colorectal cancer. It aims to remove the tumour, part of the healthy intestine and the nearby lymph nodes. After surgery for colorectal cancer, some patients may require chemotherapy to reduce the risk of cancer returning.
- Chemotherapy– The most common treatment option for patients with stage III or stage IV. Chemotherapy drugs are given to destroy cancer cells or impede their ability to grow and reproduce.
- Radiotherapy – External-beam radiotherapy or from radioactive material placed directly near cancer cells. For rectal cancer, external-beam radiation is the most common form of radiotherapy. It is often used in combination with chemotherapy prior to surgery to reduce the risk of relapse of the disease.
Halcyon Radiotherapy System at Beacon Hospital enables:
- Fast and precise X-ray dose delivered to each tumour with high accuracy over a minimum number of treatment sessions
- Reduces unwanted radiation dose, thus, minimising side effects
Unlike any other radiation delivery system, the Halcyon technology’s beam-on time could be as fast as 1-minute plus. Its gantry rotates 4 times faster than a standard linear accelerator and its multi-leaf collimator (MLC) can move twice faster than traditional MLCs. All of these features help in improving the time it takes to treat the patients.
- Targeted Therapy – Targeted therapy directs drugs or other specially created substances (e.g., immune system proteins developed in the lab) to attack cancer cells. Targeted therapy may be used alone or in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy.