Modern Advances in the Battle Against Gynaecological Cancers

Malaysia Healthcare welcomes travellers looking to prioritise their health to visit and take advantage of the cutting-edge oncology technologies available in the country.


SINGAPORE, 29 May 2023 – Malignancies affecting the female reproductive organs are collectively called ‘gynaecological cancers’. Cervical, endometrial and ovarian cancers are the most frequently diagnosed, accounting for roughly 1.4 million new cases and causing about 700,000 deaths globally each year[1]. Early detection of gynaecological cancers along with accurate diagnosis, staging and treatment are crucial for ensuring better outcomes and quality of life for the patient.


The world has come a long way in the treatment of gynaecological cancers. In Malaysia, many of the country’s hospitals are well-equipped with the latest in cancer care.


Innovations in the treatment of gynaecological cancers at Sunway Medical Centre (SMC) include personalised targeted therapies that involve genetic and molecular testing. Additionally, patients with cervical cancer receive immunotherapy, and those with ovarian cancer receive Poly-ADP Ribose Polymerase (PARP) inhibitors. PARP aids in the repair of damaged DNA, which can be caused by a variety of factors such as exposure to UV light, radiation, certain anti-cancer drugs or other environmental contaminants.


Dr. Thangesweran Ayakannu, a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, and Robotic Surgeon at SMC added that the hospital also specialises in lymph node samplings, which are used in cases of uterine and vulvar cancer. This helps patients avoid serious surgical complications like lymphedema. On the other hand, robotic surgery for endometrial cancers, which include robotic-assisted hysterectomy, has also been an advancement that SMC has tapped into and can improve outcomes for women. “The robotic procedure results in less blood loss, less postoperative discomfort, a shorter hospital stay and less conversion to open surgery than laparoscopic surgery,” he said.


A primary concern when it comes to gynaecological cancers is how they might affect the woman’s fertility. While the risk is there, there are various options available such as fertility-sparing surgeries and other procedures that can be scheduled with a fertility specialist. The most important factors in determining the options will be the stage that a patient is diagnosed and the type of tumour involved.


According to Dr. Thangesweran, not all cancer treatments have an effect on the reproductive system. “Fertility preservation measures are employed if warranted. These may include oocyte or embryo storage, ovarian suppression treatment during chemotherapy, or ovarian transposition whereby the ovaries and fallopian tubes are moved away from the uterus to prevent side effects during radiation,” he said.


There have been cases of cancers being discovered during pregnancy. Dr. Noor Azmi Mat Adenan, a Consultant Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Gynae-Oncology Surgeon at Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC) explained that the early stages of pregnancy screening or ultrasound are typically when cancer is discovered. However, because of elevated placental hormone levels, it might be challenging to interpret.


“Deciding on the right way to treat cancer during pregnancy is dependent on the stage of the cancer, the stage of the pregnancy and a thorough discussion with all stakeholders. Surgery is relatively safe after a certain period of gestation and sometimes pregnancy can further continue after the surgery,” he explained.


In conjunction with World Ovarian Cancer Day which is observed on 8 May every year, Malaysia Healthcare extends a warm invitation to healthcare travellers looking to prioritise their health to come and take advantage of the cutting-edge oncology technologies available in the country. Malaysia has the capabilities to meet diverse demands for oncology services – from screening and preventive measures to treatments, even of complex cases, and post-surgery care. As such, healthcare travellers who head over there are assured of receiving the treatments they need easily and promptly in a safe and trusted destination.


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The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) is a government agency under the Ministry of Health Malaysia that has been entrusted with the responsibility of curating the country’s healthcare travel scene. Founded in 2009, MHTC works to streamline industry players and service providers in facilitating and growing Malaysia’s healthcare travel industry under the brand “Malaysia Healthcare” with the intended goal of making Malaysia the leading global healthcare destination. MHTC works closely with over 80 private healthcare facilities in Malaysia, who are registered members of MHTC.