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Don’t dismiss body aches as gas pains

Published: 
Thursday, December 10, 2015
The doctors who performed the removal of the tumour, from left, Dr Peng Ewe, Dr Lall Sawh and Dr Steve Budhooram

A local doctor is urging citizens against dismissing body pains as “gas” and to instead seek a medical opinion for any discomfort they may experience.

Anesthetist and intensivist Dr Peng Ewe, one of the three doctors who successfully removed the world’s second largest tumor from a Sangre Grande man last week, said citizens have a culture of dismissing every body pain they experience as gas. But a lot of times it is not and could be a tell tale sign that something is wrong.

“Pain is always an issue,” another member of the team, general vascular surgeon Dr Steve Budhooram said. In the case of the patient from whom the eight-pound tumour was removed, he said: “He had no pain so he felt all was well.

“It is the same thing with cancer of the breast. You still see a lot of women with advance cancer of the breast because it doesn’t pain but the moment you get a benign lesion in the breast because this is painful they seek help.”

Urologist and lead surgeon who performed the historic surgery, urologist Dr Lall R Sawh, advised men especially once they cross age 45, to do annual prostate examination. He said a lot of men shy away from this examination because of homophobia.

Sawh said it was one of the commonest cancers in this country, “yet men are not coming forward and even when they come forward they don’t want your finger in their rectum.” He said women are more accepting of medical examinations and did their annual breast examinations and pap smear to ensure they were cancer free. 

“We (men) are horrible in terms of taking care of our health and we need to be much more proactive in looking after our own health. Our health is our own responsibility, not the responsibility of doctors and nurses,” Sawh said.

Both doctors Ewe and Budhooram said the incidence of colorectal cancer (also known as colon cancer, rectal cancer, or bowel cancer) was on the rise in T&T. 

Ewe said gastroenterologists picked up two to three cases every week. They advised susceptible patient, which includes older people, those with inherited genetic disorders, diabetes sufferers and those who are obese, to see their doctors.

Signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer may include blood in the stool, a change in bowel movements, weight loss and feeling tired all the time. Dr Sawh said the tumour, which was removed from the 52-year old patient at the Southern Medical Clinic, San Fernando, on December 2, has been sent to the lab for analysis to determine if the growth was cancerous.

The patient was discharged from the hospital on Saturday and is recuperating at his home. Medical records state that it was the largest tumour removed in the western hemisphere and the second largest in the world. The largest was 5.018 kilogramme, approximately 11 lbs, in a New Delhi Hospital at The All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, India.