KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 — The Health Ministry urged the public to go for early screening for cancer, as well as to know the early signs and symptoms of the disease, to avoid detecting it at a late stage and for a better chance of recovery.
Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said early detection, as well as a quick and effective treatment, provided a good chance for patients to recover.
“The overall percentage of cancer cases detected late (stage III and IV) increased from 58.7 per cent between 2001 and 2011 to 63.7 per cent in 2012 to 2016.
“This situation is worrying and needs to be given due attention,” he said in a statement in conjunction with World Cancer Day today.
This year’s World Cancer Day, with the theme ‘I Am and I Will’ , aims to get the public to support and participate in efforts to prevent and control cancer.
Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry was always committed in encouraging the public to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
“The ministry also provides Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) immunisation service for Form One female students to prevent cervical cancer and Hepatitis B immunisation for infants to prevent liver cancer.
“The ministry also provides free screening for breast, colorectal, cervical and mouth cancer nationwide for free, while at private facilities, at a certain fee will be charged,” he said, adding that those who are diagnosed with cancer, they need to seek treatment immediately.
He said the ministry is very concerned about the health and well-being of cancer patients, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is because cancer patients have a low immune system compared to others and are more at risk of getting a serious infection,” he added.
As such, he said, strict control measures are taken at all health facilities to ensure compliance with standard operating procedures (SOPs) during appointments and treatment of cancer patients.
Dr Noor Hisham said cancer is one of the most feared chronic diseases and can have a high negative impact on patients, families and the country, with breast cancer being the most common, at 19 per cent, followed by colorectal or colon cancer (13.5 per cent) and lung cancer (9.8 per cent).
“Among men, colorectal cancer is the most common cancer at 16.9 per cent and among women, it is breast cancer (33.9 per cent),” he added.
He said one-third of death due to cancer is associated with, among others, overweight, low intake of fruits and vegetables, poor physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption.
Smoking is the most important risk factor for cancer and contributes to 22 per cent of death due to cancer, he added.