Obstetric & Gynaecology Malaysia


What is cancer?

Normal cells in the body grow, divide, and are replaced on a routine basis. Sometimes, cells divide abnormally and begin to grow out of control. These cells may form growths or tumors. Tumors can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).

What are the warning signs of cancer?

Certain changes in your body may be signs of cancer:

  • A change in bowel or bladder habits
  • A sore that does not heal
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge
  • Thickening or a lump in the breast or other parts of the body
  • Skin changes, including a wart or mole that changes in color or size
  • Indigestion or trouble swallowing
  • A nagging cough or hoarseness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue) even after sleep

These are not always signs of cancer, but they can be clues that something is wrong. If you notice something different in how your body looks or feels, contact your health care professional.

How can I reduce my overall risk of cancer?

The following lifestyle changes may reduce your risk of cancer:

  • Do not smoke.
  • Limit your time in the sun, use sunscreen, and do not use tanning beds.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink to no more than one drink per day.
  • Limit your number of sexual partners.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. A person with a BMI of 18–22.9 is at a normal weight.
  • Maintain a healthy diet with more plant based diet and reduce processed food intake. Exercise regularly and stay active.
  • Get cancer screening tests and vaccines as recommended for your age group and health history.

How a woman cope with stress can affect the risk of breast cancer according to Dr Kristi Funk, who wrote her book  Breasts: An Owner’s Manual.
Whenever she asked a patient newly diagnosed with breast cancer if she had faced a stressful or heart-breaking situation five to ten years ago, all too often responded, ‘Yes, how did you know?’ Loss, disappointment, emotional pain, regret, illness, suffering – life happens, and everyone passes through difficult times. According to  her, it’s tragic when that ‘something’ occurred during the five- to ten-year window when cancer cells were too few to detect, but ready to gain momentum. She explained that not all stress announced itself like a massive earthquake, even chronic stress that results from the cumulative effect of tiny shocks can sets off a chain of negative reaction. Chronic elevation of cortisol hormone levels can decreased the number of natural killer cells to control the growth of cancer cells. She advised women to learn to smile often and make it a point to forgive those who hurt and upset them for their health.

What types of cancer should women be aware of?

There are many types of cancer. Some common types of cancer in women include the following:

  • Breast, Lung, Colon, Endometrium (lining of the uterus), Skin, Ovary, Cervix, Vulva

How can I reduce my risk of breast cancer?

The main risk factors for breast cancer—being a woman and getting older—cannot be controlled. But there are some things you can do that may lower your risk of breast cancer:

  • Stay at a healthy weight. A person with a BMI of 18–23 is at a normal weight.
  • Exercise regularly. Get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol.
  • Breastfeed.

It also is important to have mammography, which screens for breast cancer and finding breast cancer early before any breast lump is detected as it makes it easier to treat. Women are advised for monthly breast self examination 1-2 days after menses stop from 21 years old., as more than 50% of breast cancer are first detected by women themselves. If women found lump in their breast should have an early ultrasound breast  and regular check thereafter. Women at average risk of breast cancer should be offered mammography starting at age 40 years. If you have not started screening in your 40s, you should begin having mammography no later than age 50 years. Screening should be done every 2-3 years until at least age 75 years. Women at high risk of breast cancer, such as those with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, may need to have more frequent screening.

How can I reduce my risk of lung cancer?

Most cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking cigarettes. The best way to protect yourself from lung cancer is to not smoke. As soon as you stop smoking, your risk will begin to decrease. You also should avoid being around people who are smoking. Women aged 55–80 years with a history of smoking should have annual screening for lung cancer using CT scan of thorax. Screening is recommended for women who are currently heavy smokers or who have quit within the past 15 years-advised to see respiratory physician.

How can I reduce my risk of colon cancer?

Colon cancer often begins as a polyp. Routine screenings can help detect polyps before they become cancer. Removing precancerous polyps can prevent colon cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends getting a colon cancer screening test starting at age 45 years. These tests may include the following:

Tests that look through the colon with a telescope

  • Colonoscopy (at least 10 yearly)

Tests that examine stool for blood or abnormal genetic material

  • Fecal occult blood test yearly
  • DNA stool test

Talk with your health care professional about which screening test is right for you. Limiting how much processed and red meat you eat and having at least 2–3 cups of fruits and vegetables daily also may reduce your risk of colon cancer. Seek colorectal surgeon for OGDS & Colonoscopy

How can I reduce my risk of cancer of the uterus?

Cancer of the lining of the uterus is called endometrial cancer. It is not possible to prevent most cases of this cancer. But there are a few steps you can take that may reduce your risk. These include:

  • Stay at a healthy weight. A person with a BMI of 18–22.9kg/m2 is at a normal weight.
  • Exercise regularly. Get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
  • Get treated for any endometrial problems before they become cancer. Symptoms of endometrial problems can include spotting or bleeding outside of your menstrual period or after menopause. Treatments may include birth control pills, progestin pills or injection, an intrauterine device (IUD) that releases progestin, or a vaginal progesterone cream.
  • Talk with your doctor if you have a strong family history of cancer. A genetic condition known as Lynch syndrome may increase your risk of endometrial cancer and other types of cancer.

How can I reduce my risk of skin cancer?

You can reduce your risk of skin cancer by taking the following steps:

  • Avoid being out in the sun, especially between 10 am and 4 pm daylight (9 am to 3 pm).
  • Use sunscreen that has both UVA and UVB protection and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30.
  • Wear sunglasses that block UV rays, clothing that covers your arms and legs, and hats that shade.
  • Do not use tanning beds or sun lamps.
  • Watch the moles and spots on your skin. Tell your health care professional if you notice any changes.

How can I reduce my risk of cancer of the ovary?

Ovarian cancer is hard to detect, so women should be aware of changes in their bodies. See your health care professional if you have any of these symptoms for more than a few weeks:

  • Abdominal swelling or pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly

There are some things you can do that may reduce your risk. Option of yearly ultrasound pelvis instead CA125.

Birth Control Pills. Using birth control pills lowers the risk of ovarian cancer. The benefit is greater if you have used the pill for several years.

Surgery. Women at high risk of ovarian cancer may consider surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes. This surgery may reduce the risk of cancer. The timing of surgery may depend on your desire to have children in the future. Women at average risk of ovarian cancer also may consider surgery to remove the fallopian tubes, if they are already having abdominal surgery for another reason.

How can I reduce my risk of cancer of the cervix?

You can reduce your risk of cervical cancer by taking the following steps:

  • Get Pap tests. Pap tests can find cervical problems early, before they become cancer. Women aged 21-29 years should have a Pap test every 3 years. Women aged 30–65 years should have a Pap test and a human papillomavirus (HPV) &LBC (RM 180) test every 5 years.
  • Get vaccinated. The HPV vaccine is given as a series of shots and protects against the HPV types that are the most common cause of cancer, precancer, and genital warts.
  • Use condoms. Condoms help prevent HPV infection, but they do not give full protection.

How can I reduce my risk of cancer of the vulva?

There is no screening for cancer of the vulva, so be aware of common symptoms. These include itching, burning, or abnormal skin that may be bumpy, smooth, or a different color like white, brown, or red. Precancerous changes to vulvar skin often are caused by HPV infection.