Cancer Surgery

Cancers of the organs that make up the digestive system, such as colon cancer, liver cancer, pancreas cancer, stomach cancer, etc can be potentially cured by surgery if the cancer is detected at an early stage.

Cancer occurs when a group of cells in the body grow uncontrollably. The other characteristic of cancer cells is their immortality. They can recruit new blood vessels to feed them as they grow in size and spread. There are many types of cancers, depending on the cell of origin. Cancer varies widely in its behaviour. Some are aggressive and fast growing, while others are less aggressive and slow growing. The aggressive cancers harm the body by damaging vital organs and structures, and interfering with normal body functions.

 

Cancer has the ability to spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body via the blood circulation or lymph circulation. As the cancer cells travel to other parts of the body, it grows in the new destination and destroys the target organ. However, cancer is not an infectious disease and does not spread from patient to patient through physical contact.

 

In Singapore, the top killer is cancer. Every one in four Singaporeans dies of cancer. From 2005 to 2009, the top five cancers in males are colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer and stomach cancer. For females, the common cancers are breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, womb cancer and ovary cancer.

 

Doctors who specialize in cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention are called oncologists. There are different types of oncologists. Doctors with expertise in cancer operations are known as surgical oncologists. Doctors who give chemotherapy are called medical oncologists. Doctors who administer radiotherapy are known as radiation oncologists. Palliative doctors are specialists who manage patients with terminal cancers or late-stage cancers to ensure that their quality of life does not suffer too much because of the cancer.

 

Cancers are divided into 2 main groups. Haematopoietic cancers (or of the blood and lymph system) and non-haematopoietic cancers. Examples of haematopoietic cancers include leukaemia and lymphoma. Treatment of this type of cancer centres on chemotherapy.

 

The rest are non-haematopoietic cancers. Also called solid organ tumours. Depending on the stage of the tumours, surgery usually offers the best chance of a cure. Surgery has to be radical. This means we need to remove the cancer with a cuff of normal, non-cancerous tissues along with the surrounding lymph nodes. This is so to ensure clear margins, without leaving any cancer cells behind.

 

After the operation, we will await the final histology report. If there is evidence of cancer spread to the lymph nodes, nerves or blood vessels, further chemotherapy and / or radiotherapy may be needed to reduce the risk of recurrence.

 

The types of cancer we treat includes:

 

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