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Lifestyle diseases such as cancer reach epidemic levels in Malaysia

  • Thu, 11 Oct 2018 17:15
Thu, 2018-10-11 02:52


KUALA LUMPUR: Cancer has been found to be the second largest cause of death in the world — and the fourth largest common cause of death among Malaysians, according to the latest report released by the country’s Health Ministry.

The latest report titled “Malaysian Study on Cancer Survival (MySCan)” was published by the Malaysian National Cancer Registry under the ministry’s National Cancer Institute, in which it researched the five-year relative survival rate for 15 of the most common cancers in Malaysia between 2007 and 2011.

The report said that cancer was responsible for 12.6 percent of all deaths in government hospitals, and the figure rose to 26.7 percent in private hospitals.

The 72-page report revealed that there are about 37,000 newly diagnosed cases of cancer every year, and the number is estimated to rise to more than 55,000 by 2030. 

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad acknowledged that Malaysia is approaching an “epidemiologic transition” where diseases related to lifestyle habits, including cardiovascular diseases and cancers, have progressively become more prevalent.

Dr. Goh Kiam Seong, a medical doctor in one of the public hospitals in Malaysia, told Arab News that various factors can contribute to cancer. “The modern lifestyle, smoking, genetic factors, and environmental pollutions … all can contribute.

“Basically, the earlier the detection, the higher the survival rate.”

Cancer is the second largest cause of death in the world, leading to 8.8 million deaths in 2015.

The findings also showed that early detection through scientific diagnosis is key to a higher survival rate among cancer patients.

It found out that patients suffering from thyroid, prostate, corpus uteri, female breast and colon cancers have the highest survival rates at 82.3 percent, 73 percent, 70.56 percent, 66.8 percent and 56.8 percent respectively.

The most worrying cancers with the lowest five-year relative survival rate are pancreas (14 percent), heart (12.8 percent) and lung cancers (11 percent). 

MySCan also revealed genetic factors play into the survival rates for different types of cancer.

The research findings were based on 72,884 cases, involving 43,621 female and 29,263 male patients.

In the report’s introduction, Dzulkefly emphasised that “the Malaysian government recognized cancer as an important health concern among Malaysians... it is committed to cancer control and prevention strategies in reducing incidence, mortality and improving cancer survival.”

Goh said that cancer awareness was increasing among Malaysians and the government hospitals are receiving a lot of referrals nowadays from Malaysia’s public health clinics.

“We actually have health screening services in these health clinics, though not everyone is aware of it,” he said. 

Public health clinics are available for Malaysians and are heavily subsidized. Patients need to pay only RM1 ($ 0.25) for basic health services and screenings. 


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