Get Screened, Malaysians Urged As Cancer Deaths Rise

Malaysia reported an increase in new cancer cases, late detection, and deaths from cancer.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) exhorted Malaysians on World Cancer Day today to get regular screenings, even as late detection and cancer deaths increased in Malaysia.

The latest Malaysia National Cancer Registry Report (MNCRR) 2012-2016 showed an 11.3 per cent increase in new cancer cases in that period from 2007-2011, as well as a rise of about five percentage points in cancers detected in late stages, from 58.8 per cent in 2007 to 2011, to 63.7 per cent in 2012 to 2016.

The 2012-2016 cancer registry report also recorded 82,601 deaths from the chronic disease in that period, a 28.5 per cent increase from 64,275 deaths in 2007-2011.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said screenings for breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer are provided at government health clinics, while oral cancer screening is available at public dental clinics. Early cancer detection is linked to better survival.

“The main message that MOH wants to deliver in conjunction with World Cancer Day this year is to urge each Malaysian to empower yourself and to play a role in fighting cancer by choosing to live a healthy lifestyle, get screened, identify the early signs of cancer, and if cancer is detected, choose not to delay treatment but get treatment that is proven to be safe and effective as recommended by medical specialists,” Dr Noor Hisham said in a statement.

The three most common cancers in Malaysia, according to MNCRR 2012-2016, are breast (19 per cent), colorectal (13.5 per cent), and lung (9.8 per cent).

For the past 20 years, cancer is one of the five main causes of deaths in MOH hospitals and contributed 11.82 per cent of fatalities in 2018. That same year, cancer was the number one killer in private facilities at 30.11 per cent.

The theme for World Cancer Day in 2020 is “I Am and I Will”, which encourages individuals to play a role in fighting cancer.

Dr Noor Hisham cited the World Health Organization’s (WHO) estimates that 30 to 50 per cent of cancer cases could be prevented through a healthy lifestyle.

Cancer is linked to five risky behaviours: overweight, insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables, insufficient physical activity, smoking, and drinking alcohol. Tobacco consumption contributes to about 22 per cent of cancer deaths.

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