What Do You Need to Know About Colorectal Cancer?

What do you need to know about Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer, also called colon cancer, occurs in the colon or rectum.1 In Malaysia, colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in male and third most common cancer in females. The mortality rate due to this cancer is increasing and it holds the fourth place in causing cancer death globally.2, 3, 4

The colon is the large intestine or large bowel, whereas, the rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus.1, 5 Abnormal growth, known as polyps, sometimes forms in the colon or rectum. Overtime, some polyps eventually may become cancerous and form a tumour on the rectum or colon wall and subsequently grow into blood vessels or lymph vessels which increases the metastasis rate to other anatomical sites.1, 5, 6, 7 

Most cancers of the colorectal region are classified as adenocarcinomas (the mucus producing glands lining the colon and rectum). Other less common colorectal cancers are carcinoid tumours (which forms in intestinal cells that produce hormones), gastrointestinal stromal tumours (which forms in specialised colonic cells), lymphomas (immune system cancers that forms in the colorectal region) and sarcomas (which forms in the blood vessels or occasionally on colorectal walls).  5, 6, 7

Colorectal polyps and cancer do not always cause symptoms upon onset. When symptoms occur, they may include stomach pain or cramps that persist, blood in stool, sudden loss of weight with no known explanation, constant fatigue, diarrhea, constipation and stomach bloating.7, 8

Some common factors that increase the risk of colorectal cancer are obesity, aging, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, westernized diet (high-calorie, high meat, fat-rich and fibre-deficient diet), high levels of insulin in blood, gastrointestinal inflammation and hyperinsulinemia.3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11

Screening regularly to detect polyps at an early stage, especially when it is asymptomatic is important to prevent them from turning into cancer or to detect cancer early in order to start treatment when it works best.1

 

At Pantai Premier Pathology, we provide screening tests related to Colorectal Cancer. Here are some tests related to colorectal cancer offered by Pantai Premier Pathology:

 

  1. Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)
  2. Tumour marker – CEA Test (Carcinoembryonic Antigen)

 

For more information on the tests provided, please contact us at +603-42809115 (Customer Service) or email us at [email protected].

 

 

References:

  1. What is Colorectal Cancer? (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 8, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/what-is-colorectal-cancer.htm
  2. Veettil, S. K., Lim, K. G., Chaiyakunapruk, N., Ching, S. M., & Hassan, M. R. A. (2017). Colorectal cancer in Malaysia: Its burden and implications for a multiethnic country. Asian journal of surgery, 40(6), 481-489.
  3. GLOBOCAN 2018. (2018, September 12). UICC, Global Cancer Control. https://www.uicc.org/news/new-global-cancer-data-globocan-2018#:~:text=GLOBOCAN%202018%20is%20an%20online,for%20all%20cancer%20sites%20combined.
  4. Ministry of Health Malaysia. (2019). Malaysia National Cancer Registry 2012- 2016 (5). Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BuPWrb05N2Jez6sEP8VM5r6JtJtlPN5W/view
  5. Marley, A. R., & Nan, H. (2016). Epidemiology of colorectal cancer. International journal of molecular epidemiology and genetics, 7(3), 105–114.
  6. What is Colorectal Cancer?. (n.d.). American Cancer Society. Retrieved October 9, 2020, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/about/what-is-colorectal-cancer.html
  7. Colorectal Cancer: Introduction. (2019). American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/colorectal-cancer/introduction
  8. What Are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer? (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 14, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/symptoms.htm
  9. Sung, J. J. Y., Ng, S. C., Chan, F. K. L., Chiu, H. M., Kim, H. S., Matsuda, T., … & Reddy, N. (2015). An updated Asia Pacific Consensus Recommendations on colorectal cancer screening. Gut, 64(1), 121-132.
  10. Center, M. M., Jemal, A., Smith, R. A., & Ward, E. (2009). Worldwide variations in colorectal cancer. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 59(6), 366-378.
  11. What Are the Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer? (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 14, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/risk_factors.htm

Health Screenings for Common Diseases

Common types of screening tests for common diseases

Health screening is an efficient way to detect diseases early, especially when there are no signs or symptoms of the diseases present. It is an important routine medical examination performed to ensure optimal health for everyone as it allows patients to have better control over their health. Detecting a disease or condition early helps to prevent the development of chronic disorders and avoid complications.

 

Haematology

Haematology laboratory testing is performed as part of a blood test package for health screening. It involves testing the blood and its constituents to determine how blood can affect overall health or disease. The tests can also be used to diagnose numerous conditions such as inflammation, anaemia, infection, allergies, haemophilia, blood-clotting disorders, leukaemia and the body’s response to chemotherapy. The blood test results can provide an accurate analysis of the patient’s body condition and the role of both the internal and external influences that may affect a patient’s health.1

Blood banking refers to the collection, separation and storage of blood so that they can be used according to patients’ needs. ABO grouping and RhD grouping is done to ensure that a recipient receives compatible blood during transfusion.2

Antigens within the ABO groups are what determines an individual’s blood type. The four main blood groups are blood group A – presence of A antigens on red blood cells with anti-B antibodies in plasma; blood group B – presence of B antigens with anti-A antibodies in plasma; blood group O – no antigens present with both anti-A and anti-B antibodies in plasma; and blood group AB – presence of both A and B antigens with no antibodies. Receiving blood from the ABO group that does not match can be life threatening.3

The Rh blood grouping is very crucial as Rh antigens are highly immunogenic. An individual who does not produce the D antigen will present the anti-D antibody when they encounter the D antigen during RBC transfusion causing a hemolytic transfusion reaction or hemolytic disease of the new born on fetal RBCs. Therefore, it is important for the Rh status to be determined routinely in blood donors, transfusion recipients and expecting mothers.4

 

Renal Function Test

The kidneys play important roles in maintaining health by filtering waste materials from the blood and expel them from the body through urine. The kidneys also help in maintaining water and various essential mineral levels in the body.5 Renal function test examines whether the kidneys are healthy and functioning properly by measuring albumin to creatinine ratio (ACR) and glomerular filtration rate (GFR). ACR is a urine test that measures the albumin level in your urine. High levels of albumin in your urine is an early sign of kidney damage, whereas, GFR is a blood test used to follow up patients with known kidney disease by measuring the kidney function to determine the stage of kidney disease (there are 5 stages).6

 

Gout

Uric acid is a normal by-product that is being made when the body breaks down chemicals known as purine. Purines are found in our own cells and also in some foods. Most of the uric acid dissolves in the blood and then travels to the kidney. It then leaves the body through urine. When the body produces uric acid in excess or not eliminating it enough into the urine, it deposits in the joints and forms crystals. This condition is known as gout which is a form of arthritis that results in painful inflammation around the joints. 7, 8

Uric acid blood test is used to diagnose gout when a patient shows symptoms such as pain and/or swelling in the joints (i.e. big toe, ankle or knee), appearance of red skin around the joints or joints that feel warm upon touch due to inflammation.7

The test is also used to monitor patients with gout who are at a high risk of developing kidney stones.7, 8

 

Diabetic Screen

The body’s main source of energy comes from blood glucose that is obtained through diet. The glucose is transported to the brain, cells and tissues to be used as energy by insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas. Sometimes the body does not produce adequate or any insulin or is not able to use it. This is when glucose remains in the blood and does not reach the cells.9, 10

Diabetes is a disease that develops when the blood glucose level is too high. Untreated diabetes can damage the eyes, nerves, kidneys and other organs.9

Diabetic screening is used to diagnose diabetes or pre-diabetes. This allows health care professionals to detect diabetes sooner and work with the patients to manage or prevent complications as well as delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.9, 10, 11

HbA1c test is used to monitor the glucose level of patients that have already been diagnosed with diabetes and this may be done every 2-6 months. This test measures the average glucose level which is attached to part of the red blood cells over the past 2-3 months.9, 10, 11

 

Liver Function Test

The liver carries out many important metabolic functions such as converting nutrients in our diets into biochemicals that can be used by the body, store these biochemicals and provide them to the cells when needed. It also converts toxic substances from the blood and converts them into harmless substances or release them out of the body.12

Liver Function Test is used to:

  • Evaluate the biochemicals found in the blood. A higher or lower than normal levels of these enzymes or proteins in the blood implies a problem in the liver. An abnormal result usually requires a follow up to identify the source of the abnormalities
  • Diagnose liver disorder if symptoms related to liver disease are observed (i.e. jaundice, abdominal pain and swelling, edema in legs and ankle, etc.)
  • Monitor the severity of a previously diagnosed liver disorder
  • Test for any potential liver disease (i.e. alcohol-dependent individuals or individuals who have been exposed to hepatitis virus)
  • Monitor side effects of some medicines 13

 

Lipid Profile

Lipids are a type of fat and fat-like substances. They are important elements which make up the cells and are a source of energy. Cholesterol and triglyceride are two important lipids found in the blood.14

While the body produces cholesterol to function properly, diet is found to be the source of some cholesterols which contributes to high blood cholesterol level.15

In the long term, undiagnosed high blood cholesterol level will result in the formation of plaque which blocks the opening of blood vessels that can restrict blood flow (atherosclerosis) in the arteries. This incident has been associated with heart disease and other health conditions.16, 17

Lipid profiling is done to:

  • Examine the risk of developing cardiovascular disease
  • Alert medical practitioners whether a patient requires any treatment or lifestyle changes to lower blood cholesterol level
  • Reduce the patient’s risk ratio to heart disease by monitoring the treatment of unhealthy lipid levels 17

It is important to monitor and maintain these lipids in normal levels to stay healthy.

 

Urine Examination

(Urine Full Examination & Microscopy Examination- FEME)

The kidneys and bladder work together to remove waste material, minerals and other substances from the blood through urine. Many factors such as diet, fluid intake, kidney function and exercise affect the constituents of urine.18, 19

Urine tests provide information to many underlying diseases and function as a patient’s health indicator. A routine urine test helps:

  • To identify the cause for numerous different symptoms of a urinary tract infection which includes:
  1. Pain when urinating
  2. Flank pain
  • Urinary retention
  1. Foul-smelling urine
  2. Blood in urine (Haematuria)
  3. Fever
  • To monitor the treatment of conditions such as diabetes, kidney stones or urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • As part of a routine check-up20

A urine full examination observes abnormalities in the colour, clarity, odour, specific gravity, pH, protein, glucose, ketones, bilirubin, urobilinogen, nitrites, leukocyte esterase. Whereas, a urine microscopic examination is performed:

  • To verify the results from the urine analyser when unusual findings with the physical or chemical test are observed
  • To detect the amount and or presence of red blood cells, white blood cells, cast, crystals, bacteria or yeast in urine20, 21

 

Tumour Markers:

Alpha- Fetoprotein (AFP), CA 19.9, Carcino Embryonic Antigen (CEA), CA12.5, CA15.3

Tumour markers are biomarkers which are often proteins found in blood, urine or body tissues. They are produced by cancerous tissue or by the body itself in response to the growth of cancer or certain benign (non-cancerous) conditions. These biomarkers may be used together with other tests (scans, biopsies, imaging, etc) to:

  • Determine prognosis- tumour marker level reflects how aggressive (staging) a cancer is likely to be
  • Help identify and diagnose several types of cancer at an early stage- an increased level of the circulating tumour markers may indicate the presence of cancer
  • Detect and monitor a patient’s response to treatments- a decreased circulating tumour marker level indicates that the patient is responding to the cancer treatment, whereas, an increased or unaltered tumour marker level suggest that the patient is not responding to the cancer treatment
  • Detect recurrence- the tumour marker’s level is measured using multiple samples taken at various times during and after treatment (“serial measurements”) which reflects the marker’s level over time
  • Obtain details on how aggressive a cancer is (staging) or whether it can be treated with a targeted therapy
  • Screen individuals at high risk of cancer- risk factors include family history and specific risk factors of a particular cancer22, 23, 24, 25

The type of test you will receive is based on your health history and symptoms that you may have.

 

Others: C- Reactive Protein (CRP)

C- reactive proteins (CRP) are a type of proteins made by the liver. The level of CRP increases in the blood when a condition which causes inflammation occurs in the body. CRP is one of the most sensitive and acute phase reactants which means that it is released into the bloodstream within a few hours upon an injury, beginning of an infection or other triggers of an inflammation. A significant increase in the CRP level is observed with:

  1. Trauma or heart attack
  2. Fungal infection
  3. Current or untreated autoimmune disease (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis or lupus)
  4. Severe bacterial infection (i.e. sepsis)
  5. Bone infection (i.e. osteomyelitis)
  6. Inflammatory bowel disease26, 27, 28, 29, 30

The CRP test provides details whether an inflammation is present to the medical practitioner. The test measures the level of CRP in the blood to identify whether the inflammation is an acute condition or to monitor the severity of disorder of a chronic condition which will then be followed-up with additional testing and treatment. If the CRP levels reduce, it’s a sign that the treatment for inflammation is effective. The level of CRP is used as inflammation markers.26, 27, 28, 29, 30

 

Immunology & Serology

An immunology test will determine if an individual has an autoimmune disease which affects the tissues or organs throughout the body, whereas, a serology test is a blood test which measures the antibodies in the blood. Several types of serological tests are used to diagnose various disease conditions.31

Immunology and serology tests are used to:

  • Identify antibodies- antibodies are proteins made by white blood cells in response to a foreign particle (antigen) in the body
  • Examine problems with the immune system- i.e. immune system attacks its own tissues (autoimmune disorder) or when the immune system functions improperly (immunodeficiency disease)
  • Determine compatibility of organ, tissue and fluid transplantation31

 

Endocrinology: TSH, Free T4, Free T3, IGF- 1, Cortisol (AM/PM), DHEA- Sulphate, Estradiol, Progesterone, SHBG, Testosterone, Insulin, LH, FSH, Prolactin

The endocrine system is an integrated structure that includes numerous glands found throughout the body. This system together with the nervous system, monitors and regulates various vital internal functions of the body such as influencing heart beats, bone and tissue growth, metabolism, movement, sensory perception and ability to reproduce. The system consists of a network of glands which produces, stores and secretes hormones (chemical signals) into the bloodstream to regulate numerous bodily functions.32, 33

The endocrine feedback system assists in the control of hormonal balance in the bloodstream. When the body has too much or too little of a specific hormone, the feedback system alarms the appropriate gland to fix the problem.33 When the feedback system has trouble to maintain the hormones at the right level or if the body has trouble clearing them from bloodstream, hormonal imbalance occurs.32 Hormonal imbalance may occur due to:

  1. Tumour or injury of an endocrine gland
  2. Genetic condition (i.e. multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) or congenital hypothyroidism)
  3. Problem in the endocrine feedback system
  4. Inability of a gland to stimulate another gland to release hormones
  5. Infection or severe allergic reactions34

An endocrinology test is used to:

  • Measure the various levels of hormones in the patient
  • Monitor that the endocrine glands are functioning properly
  • Determine the cause of an endocrinological disease
  • Confirm an early diagnosis
  • Determine if medication or treatment plan needs to be modified34

 

Additional Test:

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which is vital for proper growth and development of bones and teeth. It’s also important in the regulation of the immune system and certain minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.35

Individuals who are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency includes:

  1. The elderly
  2. Obese
  3. Individuals who do not have adequate exposure to sun
  4. Individuals who have darker skin35, 36

The most common form of vitamin D that can be measured and monitored in individuals is the 25-hydroxyvitamin D due to its longer half-life and higher concentration.36, 37

Vitamin D test is used to:

  • Determine whether an individual is at high risk of vitamin D deficiency
  • Identify abnormal levels of calcium, phosphorus and parathyroid hormone
  • Identify bone disease, bone weakness, bone malformation or abnormal calcium metabolism as a result of vitamin D deficiency or excess (toxicity)
  • Diagnose problems with parathyroid glands function- parathyroid hormones (PTH) are essential for the activation of vitamin D
  • Monitor treatment of vitamin D deficiency
  • Measure vitamin D level in the blood prior to drug treatment for osteoporosis
  • Determine the efficacy of treatment of vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus or magnesium supplementation36

 

Hs-CRP

A high-sensitivity C- reactive protein (Hs- CRP) is used in conjunction with other tests such as lipid profile as a biomarker of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The hs-CRP test is more precise than the standard CRP test which measures high levels of the protein to identify different diseases that cause inflammation.38, 39

The level of CRP in the blood will increase with inflammation and infection due to a heart attack, surgery or trauma. This persistent low-grade inflammation plays an important role in the narrowing of blood vessels caused by plaque build-up in artery walls (atherosclerosis) and increases the risk of CVD. 38, 39

Mildly high levels of CRP in healthy individuals indicates the risk of future heart attack, sudden cardiac death, stroke and peripheral arterial disease. The Hs-CRP test:

  • Measure low levels of CRP accurately, thus detecting chronic inflammation associated with heart disease and stroke
  • Predict how well a patient with heart disease will recover or respond to treatment
  • Assess the risk of developing a heart attack and stroke in patients with acute coronary syndrome
  • Assess risk of developing CVD or ischemic conditions in individuals who are asymptomatic38, 39

The results of the Hs-CRP test can help the medical practitioner determine ways to lower the risk of developing CVD.

 

Homocysteine

Homocysteine is an amino acid which is produced in the body. The levels of homocysteine in the body will increase when its metabolism to cysteine or methionine is impaired. This can be caused by inadequate dietary vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid. Normally, these vitamins will break down homocysteine into other substances and should be found in very little amounts in the bloodstream.40, 41

Elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood may be a sign of vitamin deficiency, cardiovascular disorder or a rare genetic disorder.40, 41

A homocysteine test is used to:

  • Determine vitamin B6, B12 or folic acid deficiency
  • Diagnose homocystinuria- a rare genetic disorder in newborns which prevents the breakdown of some proteins
  • Diagnose heart disease in individuals at high risk of heart attack or stroke
  • Monitor condition of heart disease patients
  • Monitor if treatment to lower homocysteine levels is working40, 41

 

 

References:

  1. Hematology. (n.d.). Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved March 15, 2020, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/hematology
  2. Blood Safety and Matching. (2021). American Society of Hematology. https://www.hematology.org/education/patients/blood-basics/blood-safety-and-matching
  3. Blood groups. (n.d.). NHS. Retrieved January 6, 2021, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/blood-groups/
  4. Dean, L., & Dean, L. (2005). Blood groups and red cell antigens(Vol. 2). Bethesda, Md, USA: NCBI.
  5. Gounden, V., Bhatt, H., & Jialal, I. (1991). Renal Function Tests. StatPearls, 38(4), 430–431. https://doi.org/10.7142/igakutoshokan.38.430
  6. Know Your Kidney Numbers: Two Simple Tests. (n.d.). National Kidney Foundation. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/know-your-kidney-numbers-two-simple-tests#:~:text=Your%20kidney%20numbers%20include%202,have%20%E2%80%93%20there%20are%205%20stages
  7. Uric Acid (Blood). (n.d.). University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=uric_acid_blood
  8. Uric acid – blood. (n.d.). The Regents of The University of California. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from https://www.ucsfhealth.org/medical-tests/003476
  9. Screening for Diabetes. (2002). American Diabetes Association, 25(1), s21–s24. https://doi.org/10.2337/diacare.25.2007.S21
  10. Pippitt, K., Li, M., & Gurgle, H. E. (2016). Diabetes mellitus: screening and diagnosis. American family physician93(2), 103-109.
  11. Diabetes Tests. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/getting-tested.html
  12. (n.d.). How does the liver work? 2009 Sep 17 [Updated 2016 Aug 22]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279393/
  13. Coates, P. (2011, March). Liver function tests. Australian Family Physician. https://www.racgp.org.au/download/documents/AFP/2011/March/201103coates.pdf
  14. (n.d.). Fats and other Lipids 1989. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK218759/
  15. Causes of High Cholesterol. (n.d.). American Heart Association. Retrieved March 14, 2020, from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/causes-of-high-cholesterol
  16. Atherosclerosis. (n.d.). National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Retrieved March 15, 2020, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/atherosclerosis
  17. Blood Cholesterol. (n.d.). National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Retrieved March 15, 2020, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-cholesterol
  18. Urinary System and how it Works. (2006, October). Kidney & Urology Foundation of America. http://www.kidneyurology.org/Library/Urologic_Health.php/Urniary_system_and_how_works.php
  19. Kidney Disease. (n.d.). The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved November 2, 2020, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease
  20. Simerville, J. A., Maxted, W. C., & Pahira, J. J. (2005). Urinalysis: a comprehensive review. American family physician71(6), 1153-1162.
  21. Hoberman, A., Wald, E. R., Penchansky, L., Reynolds, E. A., & Young, S. (1993). Enhanced urinalysis as a screening test for urinary tract infection. Pediatrics91(6), 1196-1199.
  22. Tumor Marker Tests. (n.d.). American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Retrieved November 2, 2020, from https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/diagnosing-cancer/tests-and-procedures/tumor-marker-tests
  23. Tumor Markers. (n.d.). National Cancer Institute (NIH). Retrieved November 2, 2020, from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/diagnosis-staging/diagnosis/tumor-markers-fact-sheet
  24. Nagpal, M., Singh, S., Singh, P., Chauhan, P., & Zaidi, M. A. (2016). Tumor markers: A diagnostic tool. National journal of maxillofacial surgery7(1), 17–20. https://doi.org/10.4103/0975-5950.196135
  25. Malati T. (2007). Tumour markers: An overview. Indian journal of clinical biochemistry : IJCB22(2), 17–31. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02913308
  26. Ridker, P. M. (2003). C-reactive protein: a simple test to help predict risk of heart attack and stroke. Circulation108(12), e81-e85.
  27. YOCUM, R. S., & DOERNER, A. A. (1957). A clinical evaluation of the C-reactive protein test. AMA Archives of Internal Medicine99(1), 74-81.
  28. Roantree, R. J., & Rantz, L. A. (1955). Clinical experience with the C-reactive protein test. AMA archives of internal medicine96(5), 674-682.
  29. Young, B., Gleeson, M., & Cripps, A. W. (1991). C-reactive protein: a critical review. Pathology23(2), 118-124.
  30. Batlivala, S. P. (2009). The Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate and the C-reactive Protein Test. Pediatrics in review30(2).
  31. Stevens, C. D., & Miller, L. E. (2016). Clinical Immunology and Serology: A Laboratory Perspetive. FA Davis.
  32. Anatomy of the Endocrine System. (n.d.). The Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved December 2, 2020, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/anatomy-of-the-endocrine-system
  33. Hiller-Sturmhöfel, S., & Bartke, A. (1998). The endocrine system: an overview. Alcohol health and research world22(3), 153–164.
  34. Amorosa, L. F., HK, W., WD, H., & JW, H. (1990). Clinical Methods: The History, Physical and Laboratory Examinations, Volume 2 (3rd ed., Vol. 1990). Butterworth Publishers.
  35. Vitamin D. (n.d.). National Institute of Health. Retrieved December 7, 2020, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
  36. Kennel, K. A., Drake, M. T., & Hurley, D. L. (2010). Vitamin D deficiency in adults: when to test and how to treat. Mayo Clinic proceedings85(8), 752–758. https://doi.org/10.4065/mcp.2010.0138
  37. Nair, R., & Maseeh, A. (2012). Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin. Journal of pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics3(2), 118–126. https://doi.org/10.4103/0976-500X.95506
  38. Kamath, D. Y., Xavier, D., Sigamani, A., & Pais, P. (2015). High sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) & cardiovascular disease: An Indian perspective. The Indian journal of medical research142(3), 261–268. https://doi.org/10.4103/0971-5916.166582
  39. Bassuk, S. S., Rifai, N., & Ridker, P. M. (2004). High-sensitivity C-reactive protein: clinical importance. Current problems in cardiology29(8), 439–493.
  40. Ganguly, P., & Alam, S. F. (2015). Role of homocysteine in the development of cardiovascular disease. Nutrition journal14(1), 1-10.
  41. Moll, S., & Varga, E. A. (2015). Homocysteine and MTHFR mutations. Circulation132(1), e6-e9.

Stories of the Hidden Heroes in Covid-19 Battle

Stories of the Hidden Heroes in Covid-19 Battle

The Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging and has caused significant impact to healthcare industry including Pantai Premier Pathology’s front liners. Nevertheless, our nation’s frontline heroes have continuously dedicated their time and energy to contain this global pandemic. We are humbled by their commitment, dedication and relentless efforts in handling the outbreak, even by risking their own lives every day to fight for the nation. To sum up the year 2020 that is full of challenges, we would like to share some personal challenges and accomplishments of Pantai Premier Pathology’s frontline heroes throughout 2020 year in the fight against Covid-19 in Malaysia.

Gunasundari Kunasekaran, Senior Medical Laboratory Scientist

“My colleagues have always reminded me to take care of myself and my 7-month-old unborn baby’s safety while handling the Covid-19 cases”

I was 7 months pregnant when I joined the Covid-19 team at the beginning of the year. It was an extremely busy period as we had to work for very long hours to stay on par with the turn-around-time (TAT). Nevertheless, it did not stop me from working given that I have a very supportive family who had my back and understood the nature of my work and long working hours. I also received words of encouragement and motivation from people around me during this time which really boosted my spirit and made me even stronger. Besides, I did not feel anxious when working with the Covid-19 samples while being pregnant as much as how others were worried about the safety of me and my child as I was fully donned with the complete set of PPEs and complied to the SOP at all times.

Noor Idayana, Senior Medical Laboratory Technologist

“I have decided to volunteer myself to help my husband in the Covid team as he works overtime, even without coming back home at times”

My husband, Abdul Razak, PIC for the Covid team, has been involved in the battle against Covid-19 since the beginning of the cases’ arrival on site. He has been working almost every day ever since with minimum amount of rest. This has affected my emotions indirectly as it got me worried about his wellbeing. I felt the need to help him out in any ways I could. As a result, I volunteered to go over to the Covid sample processing site to help him out over the weekends after working during my normal shifts at weekdays. In fact, everyone in the Covid team, including the dispatch riders, clerks, marketing executives, medical laboratory technicians, scientists and the CEO himself were helping out in this battle by sharing the workload. Everyone played a huge role and made sure no one was left behind. When we helped each other, the load was much easier to bear. I feel so proud of myself and my team to be able to fight for the nation together during this unprecedented time.

Suhafiza Sudin, Senior Medical Laboratory Scientist

“The only precious 30 minutes I spend with my children throughout the day is when I get them ready for the day, early in the morning before leaving to work as they would be sound asleep by the time I reach home after settling the Covid-19 samples in the lab”

Ever since the pandemic started earlier this year, I have been working overtime due to the high number of samples coming in. On some occasions I have to standby on weekends and even have to work for a week straight, this has limited the time I spend with my children. In spite of all of that, I still felt the responsibility to help the people because that is what my job is all about. This pandemic has also made the bond between me and my team stronger as we worked together.

Woo Yee Suet, Assistant Manager

“We try to cheer ourselves by going out to have a meal together after work”

Even Though I have been working tirelessly during this pandemic, I have found moments of joy through my team who are very supportive and understanding. They will cheer you up when you are feeling down and will make sure you do not feel like you are alone in this battle. Though we were facing an increasingly complicated set of challenges, the spirit of teamwork has caused an outsized impact on our success in overcoming each challenge. Besides, the company has provided Covid incentives to all their staff who had been involved directly or indirectly in handling the Covid-19 samples for the past few months as a token of appreciation which had really motivated the team to contribute to ease the workload.

Mohd Falihin, Medical Laboratory Scientist

“The Covid-19 outbreak has given me the opportunity to learn new things and experiences as well as the skills to overcome challenges”

This year has definitely been more challenging compared to the previous years, as we had to handle not only the routine test but also the Covid test. The high volume of samples for both the routine and Covid test had us working overtime. Nevertheless, amidst this bustle I had the opportunity to gain more experience and knowledge, especially in handling new equipment and machines while working with the Covid-19 samples. This has personally boosted my self-esteem and confidence indirectly.

Ashraf Hakim Dzulkarnain, Medical Laboratory Scientist

“To all front liners out there; keep fighting and never give up. We are in this battle to fight for our nation together”

To all front liners, keep calm and stay strong whenever and wherever you are. Continue to be patient and have passion in your work as the nature of our job is not only in helping people but also the country in curbing this global pandemic. Just like the saying goes, look for the rainbow in every storm. I know each one of us has our own limitations and may be affected differently, but have faith that in the end God will repay your sacrifices in ways you would never imagine.

We are immensely grateful for the noble contributions and sacrifices of all front liners. It is our hope to continue to fight and win this battle against Covid-19 together. Even during the darkest days, there are moments of levity too.

Pantai Premier Pathology | Infographic Summary of Covid-19 PCR Tests

Infographic summary of Covid-19 PCR tests done by Pantai Premier Pathology as at November 2020

Since February 2020 until November 2020, Pantai Premier Pathology has performed 255,000 of Covid-19 PCR tests overall which make it 8.3% from the total Malaysia’s total Covid-19 PCR tests conducted throughout Malaysia.

The total number of positive cases detected by Pantai Premier Pathology from February until November 2020 is 1,445 cases.

For November 2020 alone, Pantai Premier Pathology has conducted PCR Covid-19 tests for 42,000 throughout the month.

About HIV and AIDS | Symptoms, Transmission and Diagnosis

About HIV and AIDS | Symptoms, Transmission and Diagnosis

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that targets the body’s immune system and weakens the individual’s defence against many infections and some types of cancer.1, 2, 3, 4, 5 HIV remains as a major public health issue globally, having infected an estimated 38 million lives at the end of 2019.2, 6

 

HIV infection can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) as the virus gradually destroys and compromises the immune system of infected individuals when not treated. Immunodeficiency occurs as a result of heightened susceptibility to a wide range of infections, cancers and other diseases which presents with severe long term clinical manifestations.1, 2, 4, 7

 

HIV symptoms may vary depending on the stage of infection, however, many will not be aware that they are infected until later stages or during an acute infection.1, 2  Some individuals may experience an influenza-like symptoms including fever, chills, rash, sore throat, headache, mouth ulcer, fatigue, muscle aches and swollen lymph node in the first few weeks after an initial infection. These individuals can also develop severe illnesses such as tuberculosis, cryptococcal meningitis, severe bacterial infections, lymphomas and Kaposi’s sarcoma when the HIV infection is left untreated.2

 

Most individuals who get infected with HIV get it through the exchange of body fluids from infected people through sexual intercourse, sharing needles or syringes and receiving blood transfusions and tissue transplantation from an infected person. HIV can also be transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy and delivery, experiencing accidental needle stick injuries among health workers as well as having other sexually transmitted infections will increase having HIV infection.2, 5, 9 However, an individual cannot become infected through common daily contact such as kissing, hugging, shaking hands and sharing food and water.2, 5, 10

 

The only way to find out if you are infected with HIV is to get tested. The HIV diagnostic test that is most widely used, detects antibodies made by the individual as an immune response to fight HIV. In most cases, the antibodies to HIV will develop within 28 days of infection. During this time, the individual will experience a ‘window period’; when the HIV antibodies have not been produced in high enough levels to be identified by standard tests or when they do not exhibit signs of HIV infection but are able to transmit the virus to others. As for children below 18 months old, serological testing is not sufficient to detect an HIV infection, hence, virological testing must be performed as early as birth or at 6 weeks old.2, 5

 

Currently, there is no cure for HIV but there are efficient drug treatments which allow most individuals with the virus to live a longer and healthy life. With a timely diagnosis and effective interventions, most HIV patients will not develop AIDS- related illnesses and will be able to have a close-to-normal lifespan.5

 

There are three types of tests available such as nucleic acid tests (NAT), antigen/antibody tests, and antibody tests which are typically performed on blood or oral fluid. Nucleic acid test (NAT) or HIV viral load test involves drawing blood from a vein. 11  This test measures the actual virus load in the blood to indicate if an individual has HIV or indicate how much virus is present in the blood.  Antigen/Antibody test involves drawing blood from a vein. A rapid antigen/antibody test is also available that is performed with a finger prick. This test examines for the presence of HIV antibodies and antigens. The antibodies for HIV are produced by the immune system when an individual is exposed to HIV viruses. The p24 antigen is produced even before the antibodies are formed when HIV is present causing the immune system to be activated. HIV antibody test involves drawing blood from a vein, from a finger prick or with oral fluid. This test examines for the presence of HIV antibodies only which is produced when an individual is exposed to HIV viruses. It is the most rapid test which is the only approved self-test currently.

 

 

References:

  1. About HIV. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html
  2. HIV/AIDS. (2020, July 6). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hiv-aids
  3. Cheng, D. C. K. C. (n.d.). What is HIV? MyHealth Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/hivaids-2/
  4. Wan Mohammad, D.W.M.W.M. (n.d.). http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/hiv-aids/.
  5. HIV and AIDS. (n.d.). NHS. Retrieved November 24, 2020, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hiv-and-aids/
  6. Wang, H., Wolock, T. M., Carter, A., Nguyen, G., Kyu, H. H., Gakidou, E., … & Coates, M. M. (2016). Estimates of global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and mortality of HIV, 1980–2015: the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. The lancet HIV, 3(8), e361-e387.
  7. Basant Singh, D. H. K. (n.d.). HIV/AIDS. MyHealth Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/teen-hivaids/
  8. MyHealth Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia. Retrieved November 23, 2020, from http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/hiv-aids/
  9. HIV Transmission. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 25, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/transmission.html
  10.  Ways HIV is not transmitted. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 25, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/hiv-transmission/not-transmitted.html
  11. Types of HIV tests. (2020, October 20). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Retrieved November 25, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/hiv-testing/test-types.html