Overview on Cancer

Cancer is not one particular disease but rather a group of diseases in which abnormal cells grow in an irregular way.

The information listed includes important information about cancer diagnosis and treatment as well as living with the disease. The information will help you to:

  • Define cancer.
  • Identify possible treatments for cancer.
  • Determine resources, people as well as materials that may be helpful during treatment.
  • Learn what records to keep monitoring yourself during treatment.
  • Adjust to life as a cancer patient and survivor.

Find out more about these cancers and their risk factors:


What are Cancer Stages?

“What does it mean when I’m told I have Stage II cancer by my doctor?”

This is a common question asked by all cancer patients and their family members. Before planning on any form of treatment, cancers are first "staged" or rated on how extensive or pervasive they are in a person. By determining the correct stage, a physician can better plan the best therapy and evaluate results.

Many systems are used to stage and grade tumors. The earlier the stage when diagnosed, the greater the opportunity for cure or improvement. Typically, the stages are:

  • Stage I indicates that the tumor is small and confined to the organ or tissue where it began. A Stage I diagnosis provides the best chance for cure. There are more treatment options and there are less treatment cycles.
  • Stage II means that the tumor has spread to surrounding tissues.
  • Stage III means that the tumor has spread into surrounding tissues and lymph nodes.
  • Stage IV signifies a more extensive spread, often to many other organs or parts of the body. Treating a Stage IV diagnosis is often more complex and requires more time.

Cancer Statistics

Nilai Medical Centre Compiled Statistics

Research and statistics by: Dr. G Selvaratnam, Dr. R Kananathan, Dr. AB Manivannan, Sharon Yong, Nakeeran, Pandu Rangan.

The compilation started in April 1999 which has since undergone various phases of data collection. The results below were presented at the 37th Malaysian Singapore Congress of Medicine September 2003.

The results of our NCI Cancer Registry (NCICR) figure was taken from a total of 1256 patients receiving treatments at NCICH between 1999 and June 2003. The age ranged from 3 to 94 years with a median of 53 years.

Summary of Statistics from the Malaysia National Cancer Report 2003-2005

Download full version of Malaysia National Cancer Reports here:

   
Malaysia National Cancer
Report 2002

PDF, 920KB
Malaysia National Cancer
Report 2003

PDF, 690KB
Malaysia National Cancer
Report 2003-2005

PDF, 21MB

What radiation therapy does

Radiation is pure energy delivered in beams. It works by damaging the DNA of cancer cells so they can no longer reproduce. Because cancer is characterized by rapid reproduction, this stops cancer from growing and spreading.

A radiation oncologist is a physician who is trained to use radiation for cancer treatment. This specialist determines the correct amount, or dose, of radiation, and the right method for administering it to achieve the best results. A medical physicist helps calculate the dosage to make sure your tumor gets the proper amount of radiation. Using state-of-the-art computers, they develop a variety of treatment plans that most effectively destroy the tumor while sparing normal tissue. Also, the treatment team uses imaging tests - CT scans, PET scans and MRIs - to plan where to aim the radiation.

Precise targeting
What makes stereotactic therapy different is that it delivers beams from many different angles to target the tumor more exactly. This precise targeting can destroy tumors very effectively. It even allows treatment of some tumors that surgeons can’t reach. For some patients, radiation therapy can serve as an alternative to surgery and sometimes chemotherapy.
  Higher doses
Because of this precise targeting, radiation oncologists can deliver higher doses of radiation. The radiation goes only to the cancer cells, sparing the healthy cells surrounding the tumor site.
  Fewer treatment sessions
You have probably heard that radiation treatments are scheduled multiple times each week, sometimes for many weeks. Because the stereotactic approach uses higher and more targeted doses of radiation, fewer sessions are necessary.
     

What makes the Trilogy Linear Accelerator Special

What is the difference between IMRT & conventional radiotherapy?

 
  Rotating bed for optimum positioning
The Trilogy treatment can rotate to ensure the position of the patient is as accurate as possible
     
   
Flexibility
The team of experienced medical professionals can customize treatment to target many different types of cancers, in many different locations.
Accuracy
Radiation beams match the three-dimensional shape of the tumor with a high degree of accuracy. It also can treat smaller lesions, which allows for treatment at earlier stages when cancer is most curable.
Precision
IGRT and On-board Imager (OBI) help medical professionals synchronize treatment with the patient’s breathing cycles. This helps to target tumors more precisely, while sparing healthy tissue.
     
   
Speed
The Trilogy delivers radiation at a rate that is 60% faster than traditional linear accelerators, which enhances the patient’s comfort.
Power
The highest dose rates can be delivered, so treatments take less time and fewer treatment sessions are needed.
Fewer side effects
Because of the precision of the radiation, healthy tissue is spared, which results in fewer side effects.
     

What to expect during treatment

Most often, radiation therapy is an outpatient procedure. The first visit takes about an hour, because there is a lot of preparation involved. Each subsequent visit takes just 15 to 30 minutes. Patients return home after the treatment and resume normal activities. The team of experienced medical professionals designs unique treatment plans for each patient. That plan may include treatment with the Trilogy technology or with other advanced radiation therapy equipment better suited for that tumor type, size or location.

 
Initial visit
The patient meets with a radiation oncologist to discuss treatment options. Positioning - Accurate, reproducible positioning and rigid fixation are important factors for precise dose delivery. The radiation therapist fits the patient with an immobilization device thermoplastic mask, which softens in warm water and forms a rigid yet comfortable “cast” of the patient’s anatomical contours as it cools and hardens about 4-5 minutes).
Imaging
The patient lies on a CT scan couch and undergoes an imaging procedure to create a treatment plan and ensure correct positioning.
   
   
Treatment planning
Using a sophisticated computer program, the team designs a customized treatment plan, based on information gathered during positioning and imaging.
Treatment delivery
The patient lies on a treatment couch while the machine moves around the bed and painlessly delivers invisible radiation. Sometimes the couch moves, too. The patient is alone in the room but the radiation therapist is right outside, available to observe and talk with the patient during treatment.
Follow-up
The treatment team monitors the patient’s progress with imaging tests, X-rays and blood tests. They work closely with the patient’s referring physician to manage care.