KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 — Malaysia recorded an 11.3 per cent increase in new cancer cases from 103,507 in 2007-2011 to 115,238 in the 2012-2016 period, the Health Ministry said.
Disturbingly, the newly released Malaysia National Cancer Registry Report (MNCRR) 2012-2016 also found that the percentage of cancer cases detected in Stages 3 and 4 rose from 58.7 per cent from 2007 to 2011 to 63.7 per cent in 2012 to 2016, despite the Health Ministry’s strategy of pushing for early screenings to prevent late detection that is linked with poorer survival.
Although new cervical cancer cases dropped in 2012-2016 from 2007-2011, Malaysia reported a “significant” increase in breast and colorectal cancer.
Citing the MNCRR report, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the data breakdown according to age standardised incidence rates (ASR) is 102 cancer cases for every 100,000 women and 86 cancer cases among men with the same population ratio.
“For the 2012 to 2016 period, the 10 highest cancers detected among Malaysians, in order, were: breast cancer, colorectal, lung, lymphoma, nasopharynx, leukaemia, prostate gland, liver, uterus (cervical), and ovary,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, cancer is still most commonly detected among the Chinese, followed by the Malays and the Indians, the same as it was in the previous MNCRR 2007-2011 report. For every 100,000 Chinese, there were 106 men and 117 women living with cancer, the latest MNCRR 2012-2016 report stated.
“However, when compared with the first (MNCRR) report, there was a decrease in the incidence rate among Chinese and Indians while an increasing incidence rate is seen among the Malays,” Dr Noor Hisham noted.
The ASR for cancer according to major ethnic groups was 70.7 for Malay men and 81.9 for Malay women in the first MNCRR report. It is now 74 cases among Malay men and 91 cases among Malay women, per 100,000 population.
The ASR for Chinese men and women was 112.9 and 126.2, respectively, while the ASR for Indian men and women were 70.4 and 110.1. The latest MNCRR report puts these figures at a lower 106 and 117 for Chinese men and women, and a reduced 67 and 107 ASR for Indian men and women.
Dr Noor Hisham also said the report found that in Malaysia, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancer are the top three cancers among men, while for women, it’s breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer.
This is the same as what was found in the previous MNCRR report 2007-2011, except for prostate cancer. Nasopharynx was the third most common cancer among Malaysian men at the time, with prostate cancer at fifth place.
“The incidence of cervical cancer cases has dropped significantly from eight to six cases for every 100,000 females in Malaysia,” Dr Noor Hisham added. “This decline is likely due to early detection campaigns through government-provided pap smear tests at all health facilities.
“However, there is a significant increase in the incidence of breast and colorectal cancer,” he said.
The most commonly diagnosed cancers among children aged 14 and below, on the other hand, are leukaemia and spinal cord cancer, while for adolescents aged 15 to 24, it is lymphoma.
Dr Noor Hisham referred to the Malaysian Study on Cancer Survival published in October 2018 that found that the later cancer is detected in a person, the lower their survival rates are.
“Therefore, the cooperation of various parties is essential in identifying areas of improvement to increase public awareness and access to early detection and treatment,” he said.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world and in Malaysia, as of 2018. It contributes to 9.6 million deaths worldwide and 16,000 deaths in Malaysia.
The MNCRR 2012-2016 report is a continuation of the first MNCRR 2007-2011 report. Both reports aimed at identifying incident trends and cancer risks in Malaysia for a 10-year period from 2007 to 2016.