Individuals aged under 40 also at risk of colorectal cancer

Dr Kenneth Voon Kher Ti

by Wilfred PIlo

KUCHING, March 8: According to the Malaysian colorectal cancer guidelines, those aged 50 to 75-years-old are at higher risk of being attacked by the disease.

Sarawak General Hospital consultant head of colorectal surgery Dr Kenneth Voon Kher Ti said that individuals in these age groups have a slightly higher risk, but it is not absolute.

“In my one-and-a-half years working in Kuching, I have accumulated almost 60 patients who are less than 40-years-old, and my youngest patient is 17-years-old in my current follow-up,” he said.

“Although age is an important risk, younger people are encouraged to screen as well,” he told guests before the launching of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Programme 2023 at Sarawak General Hospital today.

It was officially launched by Kuching South City Council (MBKS) mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng who was representing Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian.

Wee signing a board during the Colorectal Cancer Programme 2023 launch at Sarawak General Hospital.

Meanwhile, Dr Voon revealed that the colorectal cancer occurs in the region of the colon and the end of the rectum.

He said studies suggest risk factors include diabetes, inactive lifestyles, smoking and a diet typically low in fibre, especially from not eating enough vegetables.

“The symptoms include constipation, changes in bowel habits, passing a motion with blood stains, abdomen becoming bloated and feeling unwell. All these are possible symptoms, and there is no particular symptom that is the problem,” he said, adding that up to 60 per cent of his patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer initially had no symptoms.

“If you feel that you are at risk and have a symptom, the public can come up to any clinic and seek advice. They can ask for screening or do a simple test at a clinic.

“The staff at these clinics will take a sample of your stool and test with a special kit,” he revealed.

“If there is a trace of blood stain in your sample, you will be referred to a specialist at the nearest hospital and offered a colonoscopy to diagnose further.

“Last year, we treated almost 300 to 350 cases in Sarawak, and the figures are only for government hospital settings, and almost equal numbers of men and women have the disease.

“The distinct factor is that is that (individuals with) stage 3 and stage 4 is almost 70 per cent (overall) and 30 per cent (of overall cases) are stage 1 and stage 2,” he disclosed, stressing that early detection of colorectal cancer is important.

Also present were Sarawak General Hospital director Dr Ngian Hie Ung, and Senior Lecturer and consultant Colorectal Surgeon Associate Professor Dr Aini Fahria Ibrahim. — DayakDaily