Targeted Cancer Therapy Possible With More Genomic Testing

Khairy Jamaluddin says about 49,000 people in Malaysia were diagnosed with cancer in 2020, with the figure likely to hit over 66,000 new cases annually by 2030.

PETALING JAYA, April 4 – Cancer patients in Malaysia now have access to genomic testing for a more accurate diagnosis of their cancer based on its genetic profile.

Through a first-of-its-kind partnership between Prudential Malaysia, AstraZeneca Malaysia, and Pantai Premier Pathology, cancer patients can look forward to the innovative approach to cancer diagnosis that allows for targeted treatment for specific cancers. 

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who witnessed the signing ceremony between the three parties today, said while precision medicine for cancer is readily available, it is a “luxury” not everyone can afford.

“It is no secret that affordable access to care, what more a personalised one, is a global struggle. Industry leaders need to step up to find ways to optimise necessary technology and tools to ensure that our people are taken care of. 

“Today, we are shifting towards a model where medical decisions, treatments, practices, or products are tailored according to a patient’s unique health requirements, contrary to a one-cure-fits-all model,” Khairy said in his keynote address at the Precision Medicine Collaboration Launch and Signing Ceremony at New World Hotel here today.

Precision medicine in cancer care is a medical model that encourages the use of medicine according to a particular individual. It takes into account individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle to accurately consider cancer treatment and prevention strategies.

Khairy said an estimated 49,000 people in Malaysia were diagnosed with cancer in 2020, with the figure expected to rise to more than 66,000 new cases annually by 2030.

“We are always looking to establish a functional system for effective cancer care and since there are more than 200 types of cancer, each warrants more research to find a cure, to ensure that each patient could benefit tremendously from personalised and practical health solutions,” Khairy said.

As such, he described the partnership between Prudential Malaysia, AstraZeneca Malaysia, and Pantai Premier Pathology as a “remarkable” collaboration as part of efforts to make personalised health care accessible for all to benefit from.

“Cancer control in our country requires urgent response and all parties involved need to play their part in reducing the severity of this problem,” Khairy said.

Also present during the ceremony was British High Commissioner to Malaysia Charles Hay, National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) managing director Dr Murallitharan Munisamy, Prudential Assurance Malaysia Bhd chief executive Lim Eng Seong, Prudential BSN Takaful Bhd CEO Wan Saifulrizal Wan Ismail, AstraZeneca Malaysia country president Dr Sanjeev Panchal, and Pantai Premier Pathology chief executive Hareeff Muhammed.

Hareeff later told the press that complete genomic profiling, depending on the markers to be included, can vary between RM8,000 and RM15,000. He said genomic testing for cancer used to cost up to RM20,000, with the cost of sending samples abroad driving prices up to RM28,000, prior to the technology being made available locally.

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