Gastrointestinal Cancers

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in Malaysia. Common among males than females. The highest incidence in Chinese followed by Malay and Indian.

Male, Chinese

Colorectal cancer grows very slowly. It begins as a tiny growth at the surface of the intestine. An individual may only seek medical attention when it becomes large enough to cause symptoms.

Thus, a majority of the patients are diagnosed late. Only a small fraction are diagnosed early through screening tests such as colonoscopy or routine testing of stool for blood.

Gastric Cancer

Gastric cancer is the sixth commonest cancer among men and the tenth commonest cancer among women in Malaysia. Many patients are diagnosed at the age of 65 and above.

Male, 65 & Above

It presents with subtle symptoms or no symptoms at all. Most of these patients will be treated as common gastric illnesses during initial consults.

At a later stage, patients will have more severe symptoms such as passing out blackish stool or vomiting blood. An individual has a higher chance of recovery when detected early.

Unintentional weight loss may be a symptom.
Unintentional weight loss may be a symptom.

Gastrointestinal cancers may present in vague symptoms that may not be noticeable easily.

These common symptoms include:

  • Bloatedness
  • Loss of appetite
  • A change in bowel habits
  • Blood is present in the stool
  • Unexplained abdominal aches
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Looking pale
  • Difficulty/inability to pass motions
A tumour growing on the gastrointestinal wall.
A tumour growing on the gastrointestinal wall.

The Risk Factors

The risk factors for colorectal cancer:

  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol intake
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Physical inactivity
  • High intake of red or processed meats and refined sugar

The risk factors for gastric cancer:

  • Family history of gastric cancer
  • Smoking
  • Helicobacter pylori infection
  • High intake of pickled, salted and smoked food

Laparoscopic Surgery

Laparoscopic surgery is safe and effective.
Laparoscopic surgery is safe and effective.

The mainstay of treatment for gastrointestinal cancers is surgical resection. Some may require chemotherapy or radiotherapy before or after the operation. The surgery can be done with conventional open surgery or laparoscopic surgery.

Laparoscopic surgery is as safe and effective as the conventional open surgery. It has superior short-term outcomes and similar long term oncological outcomes with open surgery.

The benefits of laparoscopic surgery include:

  • Reduced postoperative pain
  • Lesser blood loss
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Lower risk of wound infection
  • Quick return of gastrointestinal function

Dr Cha Kar Huei

MD (Canada) FACS (USA)
Consultant Bariatric and General Surgeon

Dr Cha is a surgeon at the Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC). He graduated from Dalhousie University, Canada in 1998. He entered surgical training at Massachusetts General Hospital and completed his training at the University of Wisconsin in 2004.

He trained at the New York University Medical Centre on minimally invasive bariatric surgery and attained a Fellow of the American College of Surgeon in 2009.

Dr Cha is experienced in minimally invasive surgery with an interest in bariatric surgery. He is also a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

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Place of Practice

Subang Jaya Medical Centre
No. 1, Jalan SS12/1A, SS 12,
47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor.

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52200 Desa Parkcity, Kuala Lumpur.