According to the Malaysia National Cancer Registry Report (2012-2016), about 63.7 per cent of patients were already in advanced cancer stages (Stages Three and Four) at the time of their diagnosis.
Detecting cancer early can drastically improve survival and quality of life. This in turn will significantly reduce the costs and complexities of cancer treatment.
When cancer is detected at an early stage, the chance of survival beyond five years is higher, otherwise the survival rate will deteriorate.
A delayed diagnosis could lead to a worse prognosis and even a higher risk for death. Comparing the risk of death within five years of cancer staging in Stage Four with Stage One, there is a 7.5 times higher risk of death for female breast cancers, 5.5 times for cervical cancers, and 3.9 times for colorectal cancers.
The Covid-19 pandemic has left many people unsure of how and when to seek medical help. The issue of undiagnosed cancers has emerged during this pandemic.
The number of people being diagnosed with cancer at a later stage has increased during the pandemic, and this has health care professionals worried that these patients can only be treated when it is too late.
Now many of us might have questions like “I have the signs, but what should I do?”, “Is it safe for me to go to the hospital?” or “Will I be attended to and treated?”.
Many people are likely to be nervous about visiting health care facilities during this pandemic, but be assured that hospitals are following strict infection control rules to help minimise the threat of Covid-19.
World Cancer Day in 2021 aims to inspire and encourage action from individuals to access early detection, screening, and cancer diagnosis.
Early detection of cancer can lead to a better prognosis and improve disease survival, so be courageous to step forward for screening, as you can make a change for the better.
Dr Nithiya Sinarajoo, Dr Yoong Lee Yeen, Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming and Prof Dr Noran Naqiah Hairi are from the Department of Public Health, University Malaya Medical Centre.
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