Understanding The Big C

By Sushma Veera

Kuala Lumpur, Oct 9: Every October, breast cancer awareness is heightened through various campaigns to bring to light the complexity of the condition and how it can be treated.
Yet, how many are aware of the other most commonly occurring cancers amongst women, and what they can do to detect it and seek treatment?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the top cancers among women besides breast cancer are colorectal, ovarian and cervical cancer, and the numbers continue to rise each year.
Acknowledging this, Sunway Medical Centre Velocity (SMCV) is putting a spotlight on women’s health and how they can take control of their own wellbeing with their #GIRLPOWER campaign, which will run all this month.
SMCV consultant oncologist Dr Hafizah Zaharah said women of all ages should take charge of their health so that they can do what is best for themselves.
“Women should be aware of their body changes at all times. Even when they are still at a younger age, in their 20s and 30s, they have the risk of being diagnosed with cancer – recently we have an increasing number of patients in the younger age group. Irrespective of age, those who get their cancer detected early would have a better outcome to get treated and have higher chances of recovery,” she said.
While some may be hesitant to make an appointment or go for respective screenings out of fear for the diagnosis, or even try to self-treat at home, Dr Hafizah explained that early detection is crucial, and that warning signs and symptoms must be paid attention to.
“A woman should get herself tested right away even if she is only experiencing one of the symptoms for any of these four cancers. This is because different patients may experience different types of symptoms. Some might be having a few symptoms, and some may only experience one symptom such as a breast lump.”
“It is important to know the symptoms that they are having and even more important to get the right and designated type of screening test to know whether they have these four types of cancer, or any other cancer. Women must be aware of the fact that they first need to be responsible for their own health before they can take care of others,” she added.

SMCV Empowers Women to Speak Up and Take Charge of their Health with #GIRLPOWER Campaign. Poster Supplied.
SMCV Empowers Women to Speak Up and Take Charge of their Health with #GIRLPOWER Campaign. Poster Supplied.

For women who have yet to undergo screenings before, Dr Hafizah recommended that they get the specific health screening or test according to the symptoms they are experiencing.
“These include mammograms and breast ultrasounds for breast cancer, colonoscopy for colorectal cancer, blood test and tumour marker for ovarian cancer and pap smear for cervical cancer. They can also get additional blood and tumour marker tests for the breast or colorectal cancer screening for a better diagnosis.”
“For women who have had symptoms and have previously undergone these tests, they should get tested once again and may need a more extensive screening if they experience the symptoms again after the first test. It is advisable for women to go for health screenings once a year for women above the age of 40, and once every two years for those below.”

Dr Hafizah Zaharah, Consultant Oncologist from SMCV. Supplied.
Dr Hafizah Zaharah, Consultant Oncologist from SMCV. Supplied.

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