PUTRAJAYA, Feb 4 – Almost 60% of cancer cases in the country were detected at Stage III and IV due to the lack of public awareness on the importance of early diagnosis and screening, according to Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
He said the increase in the death toll due to cancer in the country was also caused by the failure of patients to seek early treatment, besides the fact that there were patients with a strong tendency to seek alternative treatments after diagnosis and would only return to the hospital when the cancer was already at an advanced stage. By doing so, the patients are actually reducing their chances to be cured, he added.
“Besides, there are some people who think that cancer is a death sentence and that makes them afraid to even undergo cancer screening and they keep thinking that they are better off not knowing,” he said in a statement in conjunction with World Cancer Day 2018 today.
The minister said cancer was the fourth leading cause of death in Malaysia and contributed to 12.6% of deaths reported at all government hospitals nationwide in 2016. Subramaniam said undergoing early screening to detect cancer at the earliest possible stage and identifying the symptoms, are the most important moves in increasing the chances for the cancer to be cured.
“Prevention is better than cure. That is why the KKM (Health Ministry) is providing free screening and tests for cervical and breast cancer at its facilities across the country. Now, the KKM also provides early colorectal cancer screening service. The screening service for those cancer types are also available at private hospitals and certain non-governmental organisations with certain fees,” he said.
Subramaniam said tobacco intake contributed about 22% of deaths due to cancer, while hepatitis and human papilloma virus (HPV) infections contributed 25% to liver and cervical cancer in low and middle-income countries. “The number of deaths due to cancer is expected to rise by 70% over the next two decades if there is no intervention took place,” he added. — Bernama