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Getting to Knows Dr Liau Kui Hin

"My philosophy in treating patients is to manage the patient with the disease as a fellow human being like you and me."

Dr Liau Kui Hin is a general surgeon practising at Parkway East Hospital. Dr Liau has more than 18 years of experience treating digestive cancers such as liver cancer, gall bladder cancer, bile duct cancer, pancreatic cancer and other disorders in the digestive system.

  • Specialty:

    • General Surgery
  • Qualifications

    • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, National University of Singapore
    • Master of Medicine (Surgery), National University of Singapore
    • Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, UK
    • Fellow of the Academy of Medicine (General Surgery)
    • Fellow of the International College of Surgeons
  • Languages Spoken

    • Cantonese
    • English
    • Hakka
    • Hokkien
    • Indonesian
    • Mandarin
    • Teochew

Getting to Knows Dr Liau Kui Hin

Getting to Knows Dr Liau Kui Hin

Q: Please share with us some of your experiences as a doctor.

I call it the “Trio of My Experiences”, ie. as a doctor, as a surgeon and as a person. 

Being a doctor presents endless opportunities to connect with people in a myriad of ways, giving me the time to study, diagnose, evaluate, assess and treat diseases and manage patients as fellow human beings. #readmore

Being a surgeon gives me the joy to hone my technical prowess, providing the opportunity to innovate and overcome technical challenges using modern technology and scientific advances in the digital era. In return, my patients give me tremendous joy, fulfillment and satisfaction, which to a great extent not only enriches my soul and life, they are also my source of inspiration. 

As a doctor, I come into contact with different segments of the society, learn about their needs and lives, their reactions, emotionally and spiritually, to their diseases, and their family and friends in supporting them through the treatment journey. Not surprisingly, I see the triumphs and tragedies of life, the joys and tribulations, the victories and defeats, and the successes and failures of therapy.  

This trio of experiences has put me at the nexus point where humanity, diseases and technology meet face to face, giving me plenty of opportunities to witness the impact of diseases and modern technology on human lives. To see how sickness and poor health affect humanity and how technological advancements improve our life is enriching, both to the mind and soul.

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Q: What kind of conditions do you treat, or specialise in treating?

I am trained as a gastrointestinal or digestive cancer surgeon. The common conditions I manage on a daily basis are digestive cancers such as liver cancer, cancers that spread to liver, pancreas cancer, carcinoid or neuroendocrine tumour (NET), bile duct cancer, gall bladder cancer, intestinal cancer and stomach cancer. #readmore

The rare cancers that I treat are neuroendocrine cancers or tumours (carcinoids or NETs) and abdominal sarcoma. I also trained to work with a team of trans-disciplinary cancer surgeons to manage some of these complex giant sarcoma cancer patients where the nature of the operation is highly challenging. 

In addition, I also treat common non-cancer and benign conditions such inguinal hernia, abdomen wall and belly button hernia, gallstone diseases, bile duct stones, pancreatitis, bile duct cyst, liver cyst and pancreas cyst. Finally, I also see infections and abscesses in the belly involving the liver, bile duct (cholangitis), gall bladder, pancreas and intestines. Emergency care and surgery, especially acute appendicitis, internal bleeding in the digestive system or belly, acute abdominal pain and abdominal trauma are part of my routine clinical work. 

My areas of specialisation and expertise include surgical oncology (cancer surgery), neuroendocrine oncology (carcinoid & NET), gastrointestinal or digestive surgery, liver surgery, gall bladder surgery, bile duct surgery, pancreas surgery, hernia reconstruction surgery, laparoscopic surgery (keyhole operation), endoscopy (diagnostic and therapeutic gastroscopy and colonoscopy), surgical infection, acute care and emergency surgery. 

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Q: Do you perform any kind of special treatments? If so, please share a little here.

My technical skills are special in terms of the application of modern technology and innovations in the operations. This involves the use of endoscopy, radiology assisted interventional procedures, technology assisted surgery, and minimally invasive or laparoscopic techniques to perform precision surgery in the abdomen to remove cancer, diseased organs and repair body structures.

The treatments I recommend are individualised and tailored to both the medical and emotional needs of my patients. #readmore

 My special expertise are in the field of surgical oncology, hepatopancreatobiliary (liver, gall bladder, bile duct and pancreas) surgery, endoscopy and laparoscopic surgery, acute surgical care and surgical infection. 

My specialty is unique simply because in order to achieve best treatment results for the patients, multi- and trans-disciplinary team management is important. The special skills required in modern surgery focus on treating cancer patients by removing the tumour safely with maximum organ functions and structure preservation.

Modern surgery with the application of surgical technology (such as minimal access surgery, argon plasma coagulator, harmonic scalpel, etc.) allow operations to be performed with greater precision and speed, less pain, less complications and faster recovery with shorter hospital stays. Better clinical outcome and quality of life can be expected.

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Q: Could you share your philosophy in treating patients?

My philosophy in treating patients is to manage the patient with the disease as a fellow human being who is like you and me. Treating patients is akin to dealing with people in one’s daily life, connecting with people with respect and dignity, bearing in mind the priority in solving the underlying medical and socio-psychological problems. #readmore

As a doctor or surgeon, we know best about various treatment options, surgical techniques and the clinical outcomes of the recommendation we propose to our patients. However, these medical benefits are only a few of the many factors that influence treatment choices for patients with cancer and illnesses. To come to the final balanced decision, we should factor in the patient’s values of life together with input from both the patient and the family.

While most patients are happy when all goes well and everything is right in the treatment process, they are most satisfied when the attitude of the doctor towards the patient is right. In other words, the doctor must not only have the necessary technical skills and knowledge, we should also have the savoir faire and savoir vivre, that is, be able to behave, speak and conduct oneself well.

Ultimately, the practice of medicine is the application of the highest form of science and arts. Truly, as a motto of the medical profession, it is not the pride of knowledge but the humility of wisdom.

The practice of medicine and surgery testify to the alliance of humanity and medical sciences, which is showcased in the human diseases affecting mankind.

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Q: Briefly describe a particularly difficult case that you successfully treated using your expertise.

As a cancer warrior, the main challenge is battling cancer in the patient. Being a cancer surgeon, the question that I have to answer in every cancer patient is, whether surgery can extend the life of the cancer patient without affecting the patient’s quality of life. 

One of my difficult cases was to manage a rare cancer in the pancreas that required complex surgery. The patient had consulted two other specialists and was referred to me for treatment. #readmore

The challenges centred around 3 hurdles in the initial phase of the management. Firstly, to diagnose the nature and stage of this rare cancer using available laboratory tests, the latest imaging technology available, different (and safe) biopsy techniques and diagnostic endoscopy. Secondly, to consider all possible treatment options, ie. strategise, prioritise and sequence the options based on the best, currently available scientific evidence. Thirdly, to discuss the complex medical issues, the treatment options, the attending risks and benefits of each options, the expected outcomes and impact of each treatment.

Also, I have to discuss and weigh the differing opinions from the other specialists whom the patient consulted previously. Most importantly, the proposed nature of treatment must be safe, effective and aligned with the values and needs of the patient and the patient’s family. 

In the mid-phase of the management, the challenges revolve around the technicality of the operation. The cancer surgeon has to plan the steps involved in removing the cancer tumour together with a cuff of healthy tissue safely from the organ and avoid injury to the organs adjacent to the tumour.

Every challenging technical step has to be anticipated and all contingency plans have to be thought through carefully prior to the commencement of the complex operation. 

In the final phase of management, the challenges shift to the post-operative care of patient in the intensive care units, to monitor patient closely and ensure a smooth recovery from the operation, while managing the patient and family's fear, anxiety and uncertainty. 

Treating a challenging disease requires tenacity, patience and teamwork from all the relevant expertise. Overcoming all the challenges and conquering the aggression of cancer is equally satisfying and fulfilling to the surviving patient, family, and surgeon. 

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Q: In what ways do you think your expertise can improve your patients’ lives?

The primary goal is to improve the quality and quantity of life for my patients so that they can return to their normal daily living and enjoy their lives. Through the doctor-patient-family relationship, I hope to bring about a positive change in my patient's life. With my knowledge, skills and experience in the treatment of cancers and diseases that I encounter on a daily basis, I can reassure, educate and assist them to come to terms with the disease before we work together to eradicate it and try to restore bodily functions. #readmore

I try to bring hope without over-promising the impossible and do my best to bring smiles and joy into my patients’ lives . I try to convince the patient that worry and fear will only rob them of peace without altering the stage of cancer. I find that this has helped to change the perspective and outlook of many patients. 

It is understandably a life-changing experience when a patient is afflicted with an aggressive cancer. The perspectives and priorities of the patient’s life change overnight. The patient’s psycho-emotion is disturbed and the entire family is affected. Beyond my technical expertise, I hope my patients can find solace in my presence, comforting words and counselling. Hopefully, with my knowledge, skills and experience, I can assist my patients and family to rebalance their lives and accept the new norm.

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