The Kindest Cut of All



By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen

Given the option to have surgery with a choice of surgeons, I would certainly choose Dr Chan Ching Phing. As consultant General Surgeon in Fatimah Hospital, Dr Chan has only recently left General Hospital Bainun to take up full time consultancy a year ago.

Dr Chan Ching Phing-2

The reason for my choice of Dr Chan as preferred surgeon is due to her one and a half year’s training in the Plastic Surgery department at the General Hospital in Ipoh. Not that I have any actual experience of her operating on me but having had a fair number of surgeries in my past, I have enough scars on my body to qualify for the “Most Scarred For Life” title if there was ever to be a competition. And these are scars not embellished by the specialist touch of a plastic surgeon’s handiwork. Which are always much finer, the stitching, more delicate.

Understandably, the raison d’etre for going to a General Surgeon is not for cosmetic reasons but often for life-saving ones, but it certainly helps to put oneself in the hands of a surgeon who does delicate suturing work as well.

Dr Chan never dreamt of becoming a surgeon. Finishing her medical degree and posted as a houseman at the General Hospital in Ipoh in 1992, she found herself in the Plastic Surgery department and it was here that she developed her passion for surgery.

Dr Chan Ching Phing-1Applying for the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) a professional qualification for practising as a surgeon in the British Isles in 1995 saw her passing her first examination with ease and subsequently breezing through Part 1 in 1996 and Part 2 in 1998 soon saw her accredited as a full fledged Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Further training in Laparoscopic surgery soon established Dr Chan as one of the few laparoscopic surgeons in Ipoh, performing minimally invasive surgery, bandaid surgery, or keyhole surgery, which is a modern surgical technique in which operations in the abdomen are performed through small incisions as opposed to the larger incisions needed in laparotomy. This technique is ideal for gall bladder removal (known as cholecystectomy), or appendix surgery.

Other surgeries commonly performed by Dr Chan include Hernioplasty which require repair of the abdominal wall or repair of inguinal hernias more commonly found in men, which occurs when tissue pushes through a weak spot in the groin muscle. This causes a bulge in the groin or scrotum that may hurt or burn.

But her true sub-specialty as a General Surgeon is in breast surgery where most of her current workload is focused. “Actually, the correct person to manage breast cancer is the General Surgeon, together with the Oncologist of course. While the detection of breast lumps may come from any physician or specialist especially the gynaecologist, the decisions on removal and subsequent management rest with the surgeon in consultation with the oncologist.”

“Breast Cancer can be localised or systemic and the treatment options will vary depending on the diagnosis. I prefer a conservative approach, always recommending a lumpectomy (removal of the breast lumps or lumps) first and only as a last resort, a total mastectomy” she added.

When asked what she thought of Superstar Angelina Jolie’s double breast mastectomy as a breast cancer preventive due to finding a specific gene indicative of a tendency towards breast cancer, Dr Chan said,  “ I think she is very brave, not just to be able to live long enough to see her children grow up but to tell the whole world about herself losing her breasts (one of GOD’s greatest creation for a woman). By doing so she can actually help many women to face their disease and continue to live normally. Bravo Angelina! I give her a big salute.”

One of the principal precepts of medical ethics which is taught in all medical schools is that of “Primum non nocere” or “First Do no Harm”. Given that a General Surgeon’s primary task is to perform invasive surgery, Dr Chan finds herself walking a constant tightrope between recommending invasive surgery or leaving a medical condition well alone and prescribing palliative treatment instead. Judging by the number of happy patients treated by Dr Chan, is testimony to the fact that she walks that tightrope very well.

To contact Dr Chan Ching Phing:
CP Chan Surgery, Hospital Fatimah, Suite 11 (Grd flr)
Tel: 05 548 9098