1 in 4 males, and 1 in 5 females are likely to get cancer by 75 years old

From a Straits Times article by Ms Salma Khalik1, the National Registry of Diseases Office reported 13,241 cancer cases in 2014, with lung cancer being the deadliest type of cancer. Over a period of 5 years, from 2010 to 2014, out of 6,899 people diagnosed with lung cancer 5,732 died of it.

The incidence rate can be rather high for some types of cancer as shown in the table below, data from Singapore Cancer Society2.

Top 3 cancer by gender:

Men % Women %
Colorectal 17.2% Breast 29.2%
Lung 115.0% Colorectal 13.3%
Prostate 12.2% Lung 7.6%

A general word of advice, if you find anything unusual with your body, seek proper medical advice. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment of cancer (or any critical illness for that matter), the better your chances of making a good recovery.

For more:  http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/more-people-getting-cancer-since-2010

 

 

 

Many housemen get culture shock

PETALING JAYA: Many housemen serving in government hospitals are ill prepared for the harsh realities of the job, according to a senior government doctor.

“They get a culture shock,” he told FMT, adding that this was especially true of those trained overseas.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said the interns didn’t realise, until they joined the service, that they would have to work long hours and to be at the bottom of the food chain, which would mean taking instructions even from nurses.

“Some come in thinking they will have a nice air-conditioned office, that they don’t have to run around and do certain things because those are nurses’ jobs,” he said.

“There are even some who can’t stand the sight of blood.

“There are also those who are just going through the motions to complete the housemanship. They don’t have the passion to become a doctor.”

Chief Secretary to the Government Ali Hamsa recently disclosed that housemen made up the highest number of civil servants served with termination notices. He said their inability to deal with the pressures of working in a public hospital caused many of them to disappear from work for days, at times hundreds of days.

Speaking of the long working hours for interns, the senior doctor said this was necessary because their large numbers meant that they tended to get less exposure to a doctor’s duties.

“If they want exposure and experience, they have to work long hours,” he said. “But this is a journey a houseman must go through. Doctors make life and death decisions and you must have the knowledge and experience to make those calls.”

He agreed with Ali that interns who couldn’t cope with the pressure would go absent. Because of this, he said, it was good that the government now employed some housemen as contract workers.

Last year, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that from December 2016, some 2,600 medical graduates who couldn’t find placement as interns could work at government hospitals on contract.

A news report in 2014 said about 7,000 students graduated as doctors annually from more than 300 locally and internationally recognised universities but only 5,000 housemanship slots were available each year.

Another doctor who declined to be named agreed that many housemen suffered a culture shock, but he said most of those he had come across could adapt.

“From what I have seen, the problem is isolated,” he said. “I’ve yet to see a houseman being sacked for discipline problems.

“Of course you will have some with an attitude problem. Essentially, housemen are interns and with interns in all industries, you’re going to get some bad interns. But most of those I’ve met are okay.”

 

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/02/16/many-housemen-get-culture-shock/

 

End of the road for 65-year-old traditional Chinese medicated tea stall

GEORGE TOWN, Feb 16 ― Back in 1953, a young couple started selling Chinese medicated tea from a pushcart stall along Cintra Street.

Chan So Han and her husband, Lim Ah Kong, did that for 38 years before the latter died in 1991, leaving Chan to fend for herself and their eight children.

Chan almost wanted to give up the stall but she thought of the four younger children who were still studying and needed her support.

“One had just started studying in Universiti Sains Malaysia, another was halfway through his course in university so I had to continue selling medicated tea,” she said.

With the help of her second and fourth daughters, she continued to operate the roadside stall at Cintra Street before finally opening Shong Hor Hin Medicated Tea at a shophouse along Kimberley Street.

“We opened the shop in 1995 so finally we didn’t have to be subjected to weather conditions,” the 85-year-old said.

One of her daughters continued to operate the roadside stall until she closed it a few years ago.

Chan said she would not have been able to continue without the support of her family: her father Chan Swee Foo who taught her the recipes for her medicated teas, her mother who babysat all her eight children over the years and her grandmother who helped her boil the tea.

Swee Foo was a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner who imported herbs from China and sold Chinese medicines and herbs.

“Operating this stall was hard labour with barely enough rest in between operation hours,” Chan said.

Even when her husband was still alive, they woke up at 6am to start preparing the ingredients for the teas and boiling them in large pots.

“The foo cha takes five hours to boil so we have to start preparing really early,” she said.

The foo cha (which is Cantonese for bitter tea) is known as kor teh in Hokkien. She also had to prepare the tek chia (bamboo cane tea) and kek hwa teh (chrysanthemum tea).

“Our stall opens till late, usually 1am, and when we push the stall back, we have to clean and wash everything before going to sleep and then after after a few hours, the day starts again,” she said.

It is much easier at the shop as she no longer has to push the cart back but the work involved remains the same although in the last two decades, her daughters helped her in most of the operations.

Saying goodbye

It was not an easy decision for Chan to call it quits especially when she had kept the business going for 65 years.

“My children and grandchildren kept telling me to close it down as they felt it was time I retire and rest instead of working so hard each day preparing the ingredients and the teas,” she said.

The oldest of her children is 63 years old, and her two daughters who had always helped her in the business also wanted to retire.

“They both needed to rest, they’ve helped me since small, they’d come back from school, eat, finish their homework and automatically help me at the stall,” she said. Both are already in their 60s and 50s now.

“I am old. I am 85 years old, I can’t keep going on like this, what if I fall down? Although it breaks my heart to close a business that I spent almost my whole life doing, I have no choice.

“As with everything in life, there must be an ending and this is the end of the road for the shop. I started it with my husband so now it is up to me to close it and say goodbye,” she said.

The shop closed on January 26 and to “protect” her regular customers’ feelings, instead of a notice of closure, she put up a “temporary closure” notice at the entrance.

“I don’t want my customers to celebrate Chinese New Year with such bad news so I termed it as temporary closure. This is so that they will think we are only taking some time off to rest,” she said when met at the shophouse along Kimberley Street.

Even as she tells us stories of her medicated tea stall at the shophouse, some regular customers saw the open doorway and stepped in to ask her when she would open again.

Each time she turned them away gently, telling them she needed to take a break and that she doesn’t know when the shop will open again. Each time she thanked them profusely for their support.

“You know the most heartbreaking thing about closing this shop are my regular customers. They have been with us for so many years, they keep coming back and supporting us, I feel so sad to let them down this way,” she said.

Chan has 18 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren but none of her grandchildren are interested in taking over the business.

“All of them have their own careers, I think each month, they probably earn more than what I earn each year from this shop,” she said.

She added that they have all seen how much work and the hours she put in each day for the shop and were not interested in it.

As with most traditional trades within George Town where businesses are operated on the ground floor while the owners live upstairs, Chan still lives on the first floor of the shophouse and will continue living there with one of her sons.

“All my pots and kettles I used are still here, I have yet to dispose of them, we will see what to do with these later. For now, I rest and truly retire after so many years,” she said.

The Shong Hor Hin Medicated Tea stall was one of the traditional trades in George Town that make up the living heritage of the Unesco heritage site.

It is one of many such trades that are slowly giving way to urbanisation and simply, a lack of interest among the younger generation to carry on.

 

– See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/end-of-the-road-for-65-year-old-traditional-chinese-medicated-tea-stal#sthash.Zfs8qDWo.dpuf

Cancer doctor Ang Peng Tiam appeals against misconduct conviction

Dr Ang was fined $25,000 last year after a disciplinary tribunal found him guilty of two charges.

When a 55-year-old woman with lung cancer saw him in April 2010, prominent oncologist Ang Peng Tiam told her there was a “70 per cent chance” of the disease responding to treatment and achieving control with chemotherapy and targeted therapy.

Dr Ang, who is the medical director of Parkway Cancer Centre, did not offer her the option of surgery, which he felt was not viable in this case due to, among other things, the location of the fist-sized tumour.

The patient died six months later, after the cancer spread to other parts of her body, including her brain, liver and pancreas.

Her family complained about Dr Ang to the profession’s watchdog – the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) – which brought four charges against him for professional misconduct.

Last year, Dr Ang was fined $25,000 after a disciplinary tribunal found him guilty of two charges – for falsely representing to the patient her chances of a favourable response to his prescribed therapy and for failing to offer her the option of surgery. He was cleared of the other two charges.

Yesterday, Dr Ang, who is also chief executive of medical oncology firm TalkMed, appealed against his conviction before a Court of Three Judges.

The SMC cross-appealed, arguing that he should be suspended for at least six months per charge.

Dr Ang, represented by Senior Counsel Edwin Tong, argued that it was reasonable for him to cite a 70 per cent disease-control rate just based on chemotherapy alone.

He cited medical literature to support his assertion that the patient’s chances would be optimised by combining chemotherapy with anti-cancer drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors. This was because the patient had four characteristics – including having never smoked – and such patients have been shown to be highly responsive to the therapy, he argued.

As for surgery, Dr Ang argued that he had made a judgment call that it was not a viable treatment option. Surgery cannot guarantee the complete removal of the tumour, given its size and location, he said.

But the SMC’s lawyer Melanie Ho charged that Dr Ang’s statement on the 70 per cent chance was false as it is achievable only for patients who test positive for epidermal growth factor receptor mutation.

As he did not carry out the test, Dr Ang had no basis to promise a 70 per cent chance of shrinkage and control of the tumour, she said.

She noted that Dr Ang had not produced literature to support his contention of a 70 per cent chance based on chemotherapy alone.

Ms Ho argued that it was not for Dr Ang to decide on the treatment but to offer options. “It is the patient’s right to choose,” she said.

After nearly five hours of arguments, the court reserved judgment. A decision will be given at a later date.

selinal@sph.com.sg

– See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/cancer-doctor-ang-peng-tiam-appeals-against-misconduct-conviction#sthash.UqT14r6r.dpuf

Burgers aren’t the only fast-food products that could harm you

http://www.todayonline.com/daily-focus/health/burgers-arent-only-fast-food-products-could-harm-you

NEW YORK — The risky chemicals that keep cooking grease from leaking out of fast-food containers are widespread, according to a peer-reviewed study released on Wednesday (Feb 1).

Researchers said they detected fluorine in nearly half the 400 container samples from 27 fast-food chains, including the four largest in the US, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Yum! Brands. That’s an indication that potentially dangerous chemicals, called PFAS, were present in wrappers for popular items like burgers, burritos and pastries, the authors said.

WAX PAPER

“We have things we do know are not problematic,” such as wax paper, said Ms Linda Birnbaum, director of National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health. “Why not use them?” Ms Birnbaum said that the industry adopted new non-stick and grease-proof coatings before gathering enough facts, and that the data on health risks are limited.

Six ailments, including testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis and high cholesterol, have been linked to the older generation of compounds, and the study says there isn’t enough evidence that the new generation doesn’t have similar risks.