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One in every four to five Singaporeans may develop cancer in their lifetime, and the number of people living with cancer will continue to increase.
According to a
National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) study, elderly cancer patients in good mental and emotional health are likely to have a better chance of recovery than those who are not (click
here for the article).
In this 'Ask the Specialist' forum,
Assoc Prof Ravindran Kanesvaran, Deputy Head and Senior Consultant of the
Division of Medical Oncology at NCCS, a member of the
SingHealth group, and also an Associate Professor at
Duke-NUS Medical School and clinical senior lecturer at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, will answer your questions about cancer in the elderly.
This forum is open from 1 Sep to 27 Sep 2019.
To post your questions, please log in. If you are not a HealthXchange member, you can register for a FREE membership
If you have problems posting your questions, please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Kindly note: Your question will go live/appear when the doctor answers it
Posted by Jeffrey
Hi Assoc Prof,
I am 54 year old now, I have many pain from my neck, arm, knee and etc. I am still able play a soccer game until recently, I try to play half game now, due to after my game, it takes me longer to recover to my normal stage.
My pain in my body come and go, I have seen many doctors and went through many physiotherapy. It doesn’t help me much. I am a very active person and because of my pains, I worry that I can’t continue to be active.
Are all the pains that I have, will cause me to get cancer easier? I tried to eat healthy and exercise regularly. I am hoping that I will not die of cancer. Hope you can advise me what I should do to prevent getting cancer at early age. Thank you and hope to have your reply.
Answered by Assoc Prof Ravidran Kanesvaran, Senior Consultant with the Division of Medical Oncology at National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS)
Thank you for the question. You have done the right thing in seeking professional medical help in trying to solve your problem of persistent pain. I hope that you will find a cause for this problem soon. However, pain on its own does not mean you have cancer nor does it increase the risk of getting cancer. With regards to cancer prevention, maintaining a healthy lifestyle by exercising ( like you regularly do) and eating a healthy diet would be the best way forward. You should also see a doctor to discuss cancer screening for certain cancers like colorectal cancer which is common and can be cured if detected early.
Posted by Peter
I have an elderly lady friend dying of cancer. Doctors said there's no hope and send her home for her last days. She can't eat and only take a bit of water. This is like starving her to death. Why is nutrition not given her by other means?
Thank you for the question. Am sorry to hear about your friend who is in her terminal stages of cancer. At this stage, the goal of her care is to palliate her symptoms and keep her comfortable. Usually at this stage, patient’s have very poor appetite and do not want to eat due to the cancer. In such a situation we should not force them to eat (as it will make them feel more miserable) or forcefully provide other forms of nutrition which will only prolong their suffering.
Posted by Mdm Lee
Dear Mdm Lee,
Thank you for your questions. Here are my replies:
My mom just recently diagnosed with High Grade B cell Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She was advised by her doctor to have chemotherapy but she refused. Now we are having hard time thinking what alternative treatment i we can do for her as she seems reluctant to every treatment offered to her. Will proper diet and family support be enough? What are our hopes for her case?
Am sorry to hear about your mother. She has an aggressive form of lymphoma which will respond quite well to chemotherapy if she is fit to receive it. In fact, a proportion of patients even in the late stage of the disease can attain long term disease control with chemotherapy. However, it is her choice and it has to be respected. In general, supportive care as you described will not be able to treat her cancer or improve her survival.
Posted by SYK
Dear Prof Ravindran,
I had a Prostatectomy done in 2013 to get rid of my prostate stage 1 cancer a moderately aggressive.
Thank you very much Prof Ravindran, for your loving care and advice.
Thank you for writing to us. Based on the description provided you are fortunate to have your cancer diagnosed in an early stage and attain cure.
Posted by TYS
For a 70-year-old patient with enlarge Prostate, if he chooses not to seek any treatment (either by medication or any surgery), will it lead to cancer one day?
Thank you for your question. If it was diagnosed as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), then you just need to treat it to alleviate your symptoms and to continue follow up with your doctor. The treatment for BPH does not prevent the development of cancer in the future and is only for symptom relief.
Posted by Joy
Dear Assoc Prof Ravindran,
My husband’s aunt was diagnosed with diabetes during her 20+ and had been taking diabetes medicine ever since. Just last year, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was 73 years old. Is there correlation between her being diagnosed with diabetes at such young age and the eventual failure of her pancreas which is the organ responsible for producing hormone insulin? Should one who is at risk of being diabetic be more cautious and go for regular checks due to higher risk of pancreatic cancer at old age?
Am sorry to hear about your husband’s aunt and her diagnosis if pancreatic cancer. Yes, there is an association between diabetes and pancreatic cancer. By having good control of diabetes ( type 2), one can mitigate the risk of pancreatic cancer to some extent. Currently there is no screening test for this cancer, hence the best way to reduce the risk is by having good glucose control.
Posted by Jen
My Mother In Law has liver cancer that is spread from her salivary gland cancer. At her age of 90, we wonder if immunology works for her.
Am sorry to hear this. The key thing at this age and having advanced cancer is to determine her functional status and establish her life goals. She needs to be aware that treatment (even with immunotherapy) may just prolong life and will not cure her. Hence the focus should be on quality of life.