Wednesday, May 19

Stomach cancer third deadliest in Sabah

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KINABATANGAN: Thirteen patients from Kinabatangan district benefited from a one-day medical camp held at the Kinabatangan Hospital here, yesterday.

Twelve men and one woman, with ages ranging from 26 to 76 years old, underwent specialist treatment known as oesophago-gastric-duedeno-scopy (OGDS) procedure in medical parlance.

Two patients were found with stomach cancer causing bacteria called ‘Helicobacter Pylori’ (H. Pylori), six patients were diagnosed with peptic ulcers while one was diagnosed with stomach cancer.

According to Duchess of Kent Hospital surgical department head Dr Lai Chung Ket, stomach cancer is the third highest cancer killer in Sabah after lung cancer and breast cancer and is the eighth highest in Malaysia.

“In Sabah, where 8 per 100,000 cases of stomach cancer are detected each year, the disease is ranked 6th in terms of volume, while among men it is fourth after lung cancer, colorectal cancer and cancer of the nose (nasopharyngeal carcinoma).

“Sabah bumiputeras have a higher risk than other ethnic groups. What is more troubling is that stomach cancer cases detected here are usually in the final stage due to ignorance and/or delayed treatment of the patients.

“In general, only 20 percent of patients live more than 5 years after being detected to have stomach cancer and compares unfavourably to Japan who, through their national screening program, have successfully detect stomach cancer for early treatment,” Dr Lai disclosed during a talk session with patients at the program.

“Generally, stomach cancer shows no signs. In an early stage, it may be considered as common abdominal pains. Symptoms, such as stomach bleeding, vomiting after meals, lack of blood, sudden weight loss and lumps in the abdomen indicate that the cancer could have spread and reach its final stages.

“Taking ‘gastric medicine’ without knowing the exact diagnosis can be harmful to the patient whereas patients have the potential to be cured of cancer if the disease is detected at an early stage,” he added.

Therefore, Lai said, residents should take the opportunity to get their health screening at the medical camp.

Commenting on the medical camp, Lai said, DOKH is committed to providing modern and optimum treatment for rural patients without them having to go to the general hospital, to help reduce their transportation and medical costs.

“Based on the reported numbers of chronic gastric patients in rural areas, the DOKH medical team has taken the initiative to run this medical camp with emphasis on the OGDS procedure in several areas beyond DOKH reach.

“Prior to this medical camp in Kinabatangan, we did a similar camp at Telupid, Beluran and Tongod. This medical camp is conducted twice a year to facilitate patients in rural areas with chronic gastric or abdominal pain seek immediate treatment,” Lai added.

Prior to the procedure, patients were briefed by Lai on the importance of the OGDS procedure, which can detect the presence of a stomach cancer causing bacteria called ‘Helicobacter pylori’ or H. pylori that have been implicated in the formation of gastric ulcers and cancer.