Ask an Oncologist: Dr Hafizah Zaharah from Sunway Medical Velocity Malaysia

Ask a Doctor ForumCategory: OncologyAsk an Oncologist: Dr Hafizah Zaharah from Sunway Medical Velocity Malaysia
dr. Hafizah Zaharah asked 2 years ago
I am Dr. Hafizah Zaharah, Oncologist at Sunway Medical Centre Velocity, a comprehensive private hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My clinical focus covers: Cancer of the:
  • Central Nervous System
  • Breast & Endocrine
  • Colorectal
  • Gynecology
  • Prostate
  • Lung
  • Head & Neck
  • Hepatobiliary
  • Upper Gastrointestinal
  • Skin
My procedural focus includes:
  • Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy
  • Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy
  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery and Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy
  • Image Guided Brachytherapy for Gynecological Malignancy
  • Systemic Cancer Treatment
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Chemotherapy, Targeted Therapy, Immunotherapy
  • Palliative Care
My educational qualifications include:
  • Medical Degree, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
  • Master of Clinical Oncology, University of Malaya
I currently hold memberships in the Malaysian Medical Association, Malaysian Oncology Society, Development Group Member Ministry of Health. Learn more about Sunway Medical Centre Velocity here: https://patients.smarterhealth.sg/hospital/sunway-medical-centre-velocity/ Learn more about me here: https://patients.smarterhealth.sg/specialist-doctor/hafizah-zaharah-binti-ahmad/ I am excited to be here to share/discuss Oncology and Cancer Care with everyone. Ask me anything! === Want to ask a question? Submit your question at the bottom of this page. Don’t forget to include your name and email address to get notified when the doctor answers your question.
13 Answers
Ambar Hutami answered 2 years ago
Doctor, I have triple negative cancer. I have undergone chemotherapy but I still feel the pain in my breast. Why is this so? Is it because the cancer is still there?
dr. Hafizah Zaharah replied 2 years ago

Pain in the breast does not necessarily means the is still cancer. Does the pain occur after the breast surgery? Consultation and examination with the breast surgeon is important to know the source of pain. Either it is related to the nerve, muscle, bone or from the breast itself. There is a specific medication to treat the pain depending on the source of the pain. The doctor also may do further imaging for example a ct scan to investigate further.

Khansa Mutiarani answered 2 years ago
I have grade 3 breast cancer, and have been treated with chemotherapy. Can the cancer I currently have spread out to my lungs? I had a history of lung tuberculosis.
dr. Hafizah Zaharah replied 2 years ago

Yes. In stage 3 breast cancer, there is a risk for cancer to recur and spread to the lung. Irrespective of history of TB. What is important is a close follow up with the oncologist and regular radiological imaging to monitor the progress and detect any early recurrences.

Jundi FR answered 2 years ago
Doctor, my father was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. What does the “small cell” mean?
dr. Hafizah Zaharah replied 2 years ago

There are 2 main types of lung cancer
A) small cell lung cancer
B) non small cell lung cancer

They are differentiated based on the biopsy report. They are treated in different ways.

For small cell lung cancer, they can be divided into 2 stage. Small cell lung cancers are staged as limited stage and extensive stage.

Limited stage means that the cancer is only in one lung and maybe in lymph nodes on the same side of the chest.

It is called extensive stage if the cancer has spread to the other lung, to lymph nodes on the other side of the chest, or to distant organs.

The main types of treatment are radiation and chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is most often the main treatment for small cell lung cancer. It is given in cycles with rest period in between to gives body time to recover

Dondi Darusman answered 2 years ago
My mother had chemotherapy for her breast cancer, but now her stomach is swollen. Is this normal for a cancer patient who has had chemotherapy?
dr. Hafizah Zaharah replied 2 years ago

No. Abdominal distension is not common after chemotherapy. Please have a check up with the oncologist to make sure everything is ok. Is her bowel habit normal or she is having problem to pass motion? A physical examination by the doctor and an imaging for example a CT scan is advisable.
Thank you

Mariam Kalu answered 2 years ago
Doc, is chemotherapy still necessary for a patient who had her breast removed in surgery?
dr. Hafizah Zaharah replied 2 years ago

The decision for chemotherapy depends on the stage of breast cancer, subtype of breast cancer (hormone positive/ Her 2 positive) and patient's clinical condition. For example stage 3 breast cancer has a higher risk of recurrence compared to stage 1 breast cancer. Hence, chemotherapy is the best option after surgery to reduce the risk of cancer coming back again. When the benefit is significant ( after looking at the 3 factors above) yes chemotherapy will be recommended.

Linda answered 2 years ago
Hello doctor, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. In 2018, I had a surgery. I have also had chemotherapy 4 times and taken tamoxifen. How do I know if my cancer still exists or is gone?
dr. Hafizah Zaharah replied 2 years ago

After completed chemotherapy, follow up surveillance is mandatory for all cancer patients. Apart from physical examination, cancer marker Ca 15-3, a CT scan imaging (CT Thorax, Abdomen and Pelvis) is also done periodically to rule out any cancer recurrence.

Devina RS answered 2 years ago
I have ovarian cancer. I have had my ovary removed. Now I am routinely checking every 3 months via USG and internal checks. My doctor said the cancer is gone. But, I am still worried that the cancer will recur. Is there any other examination I should do, Doc?
dr. Hafizah Zaharah replied 2 years ago

For ovarian cancer, apart from physical examination and ultrasound abdomen, surveillance CT scan (CT thorax, abdomen and pelvis) can also be done together with cancer marker Ca 125.

Gina Juliandra answered 2 years ago
Doctor, my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 55 years old. Does it mean I am at risk?
dr. Hafizah Zaharah replied 2 years ago

Yes. There is a risk to develop cancer if one of our close relative has it. Recommended screening guidelines for strong family history of breast cancer:
1 Monthly breast examination
2-A yearly breast examination by your doctor or nurse practitioner
3-A mammogram every year starting at age 40

Lanjar Choirun answered 2 years ago
Can stage-3 cancer be cured?
dr. Hafizah Zaharah replied 2 years ago

The answer is yes. It is possible. Survival depends on many different factors. It depends on your:

1) Type, stage and subtype of cancer
2) Age and overall health condition
3) Treatment done, and how well the cancer responds to the treatment

For a stage 3 colon cancer, about 65% will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed and received treatment.

For a stage 3 breast cancer about 72% will survive for 5 years with treatment. However a triple negative breast cancer is more aggressive and is more likely to spread and recur than other subtypes of breast cancer.

To get better information, please speak with your treating oncologist.

Deasy answered 2 years ago
5 years ago I had a surgery for a lump on my left breast. It turns out it was benign. But this past year I have been feeling pain in my right breast, and sometimes I also have cramps on my chest and my back. I had a USG examination, but the doctor said there was no problem. What should I do? The pain persists. Please give me some advice.
dr. Hafizah Zaharah replied 2 years ago

A detailed check up with a breast surgeon is needed. Mammogram may be a better option to evaluate the breast. If there is a suspicious breast lesion, the breast surgeon will recommend a biopsy for further evaluation

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