KUALA LUMPUR, June 5 — Colorectal cancer, the second most common cancer in Malaysia, is preventable, an oncologist said.
Dr Christina Ng Van Tze from Onco Life Care Centre said that colorectal cancer is very common because it is not diagnosed early.
“As a cancer, colorectal cancer is very curable if picked up early, but even in advanced stages, like stage four, it is very treatable,” Dr Ng told Malay Mail.
Dr Ng, who founded a non-profit called Empowered in 2009 to spread awareness about colorectal cancer to the underprivileged, said the main priority of the poor was not health care as they spent mostly on food and schooling for their children.
“In these types of communities where awareness levels are low, we enlist hundreds of volunteers to knock on doors not only to spread awareness about colorectal cancer, but to also invite them to the main workshops and screenings that we have,” said the Empowered president.
Volunteers from Empowered will walk colorectal cancer patients through treatment.
“We want to make them feel like they are not alone, like there is someone here with them,” Dr Ng was quoted saying.
“When I set up Empowered many years ago, I thought that healthcare was an important necessity that all Malaysians are entitled to.”
A stage three colorectal cancer survivor, George Chong You Peng, said he had failed to recognise cancer symptoms like change in bowel habits, increased burping and passing gas, appetite loss, weight loss, and deteriorating sleep, as he only went for a check-up when he saw blood in his stool. He had attributed his earlier symptoms to side effects from his diabetes medicine.
“Cancer was never on my radar. I gave excuses for whatever symptoms I had and attributed a lot of it to old age and my diabetes, so don’t be like me anything out of the norm, just go and have it checked out,” the 71-year-old man from Cameron Highlands told Malay Mail.
Colorectal cancer is the most common cancer in men and second in women in Malaysia, according to the Malaysian National Cancer Registry Report 2007-2011.