Cancer Centre

cancer-centre

Beacon Hospital Malaysia: Cancer Specialist Centre

What Is Cancer?

Cancer is the name given to a group of abnormal cells that divide in an uncontrollable manner. Cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body, and there are more than 100 different types of cancer (cancer.gov). It starts when there is a defect in cells whereby the repair and removal process is malfunctioned. These defected cells will then continue to multiply over and over until it is too much and may cause a growth called a tumour.

cancer

The starting point of a cancer is called a Primary Tumour. Sometimes, cancer can spread to other parts of body or organs – this is called a secondary tumour or a metastasis.

Cancers are divided into 5 main categories according to the type of cells:

  1. Carcinoma – cancer that starts from tissues that forms an organ such as skin, lung, liver, breast, intestine, breast, cervix, ovary, etc.
  2. Brain and spinal cord cancers
  3. Leukaemia – cancer that starts in blood forming tissue such as bone marrow or more commonly known as cancers of blood cells.
  4. Lymphoma and myeloma – cancers that starts in the cells of the immune system
  5. Sarcoma – cancer that starts in the connective tissues such as bone, cartilage, muscle, fat or blood vessels.

According to Malaysian National Cancer Registry (MNCR) Report 2007-2011, the top five most common cancers among males were colorectal, lung, nasopharynx, lymphoma and prostate. Among females, the five most common cancers were breast, colorectal, cervix uteri, ovary and lung. The cancer incidences were highest among Chinese, followed by Indian and Malay in Malaysia.

What Causes Cancer?

As mentioned above, cancer cells is a result of errors occur during cell division or because of damaged DNA caused by environmental exposures. Till date, we are still unable to pin point an exact cause of cancer, but there are plenty of studies and researches that support certain risk factors that may increase the chances of developing cancer.

Cancer causing substances such as chemicals in tobacco smoke, radiation such as ultraviolet sunrays, air pollution, chemicals from workplace such as asbestos, benzene, formaldehyde, wood dust etc. has the strongest association to the direct cause of cancer. Other risk factors include obesity, alcohol, physical inactivity, dietary habit, infections and HPV (human papillomavirus), hormones, inherited genes and etc.

What Are The Stages Of Cancer?

Staging describes the size of a cancer and how far it has grown. It is important because it provides valuable information for doctor and specialist in forming a treatment plan whether it will involve a course of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and/or surgery.

Number staging systems:

cancer stage

What We Can Do For You?

There are many types of cancer treatment as the type of treatment invariably dependent on the type and the advancement of cancer. Some cancers respond well to surgery; others respond better to radiation or chemotherapy. Hence, knowing the type of cancer is the first step toward the best treatment option. Beacon Hospital prides itself as a cancer specialist hospital offering a comprehensive cancer treatment programme which includes surgery, radiotherapy (using LINAC), radiosurgery and Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) (using CyberKnife), chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

It is a procedure which is performed by an experienced surgeon that removes growth or cancer from your body. Surgery may be open (large cut) or minimally invasive (keyhole surgery) depending on the part of the body and the accessibility to the tumour.
At low doses of radiation, it is used in x-rays to look at the bones, lung problems such as chest infection, heart problems such as heart failure, dental problems etc.

On the other hand, radiation at high doses also known as radiotherapy/radiosurgery is used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumours.

At Beacon Hospital, we do offer Radiotherapy with our LINAC and Radiosurgery with Cyberknife.

Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drug to kill cancer cells in the body.

Chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer. There are more than 100 types of drugs available and it is dependent on the type of cancer, general health condition, and the location of cancer.

The downside of chemotherapy is the side effects from it.  Not only does chemotherapy kills cancer cells, it also damages healthy cells causing side effects such as fatigue, nausea, hair loss etc.

It is a type of cancer treatment that targets specific proteins of the cancer cells by interfering the tumour growth. There are two types of targeted therapies:

  • Small-molecule drugs are small enough to enter cells easily and disabling its function from the inside of a cell.
  • Monoclonal antibodies are drugs that attach to specific targets on the outer surface of cancer cells.

Most targeted therapy would require the tumour to be tested for the specific targets and therefore a biopsy (a procedure in which a doctor would remove a piece of tumour for testing) is needed.

It is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy and it uses substances made from living organisms to treat cancer.

  • Adoptive cell transfer, which is a type of treatment that attempts to boost the natural ability of your T-cells (a type of white blood cell) to fight cancer. This treatment requires blood or tumour sample which contains an active T-cells, it is then modified and grown in large batches of T-cells in a lab. Subsequently, these T-cells will be given back to you into your vein.

 

  • Cytokines, which are proteins produced naturally by your own immune system as a normal response to inflammation, infection or cancer. There are two main types of cytokines called interferons and interleukins.

 

  • Treatment Vaccines, which works by boosting your immune system’s response to cancer cells or to prevent one such as HPV (Human papilloma virus) vaccine against cervical cancer.

Why Is Cancer Screening Important?

Cancer screening is meant for healthy individuals with no symptoms at all. Through screening, it can help to detect cancers at an early stage when the outcomes are much better with treatment and better percentages of survivability. For example, if cancer is caught early at Stage I, the chances of successful treatment and ridding the cancer are higher as compared to late stages, when the cancer has spread and treatment becomes more difficult.

Take the survival rate of Breast cancer in the UK as an example (National Cancer Registration for England):

stage recovery

We know that cancer screening saves thousands of lives, with an early detection at an early stage for a more effective treatment which pushes the probability to a higher bracket for survivability.

Nevertheless, screening tests are not perfect as it can miss cancers too. Certain times, screening tests may pick up growth that is non-cancerous also known as false positive. Hence it is advisable to know your body well as there is a saying, You Are Your Own Doctor, as to consult a doctor as soon as there are unusual changes even with a negative screening.

Here at Beacon Hospital, we do offer comprehensive Health Screening packages to suit each and every individual depending on their needs.

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