Effective National Cancer Care Strategy can reduce cancer death in Malaysia by 50 percent

Posted on 11 April 2014

Nearly half of cancer deaths in Malaysia could be avoided if patients had access to optimal treatment and early detection of cancer, according to a research titled “What if cancer patients in Malaysia have access to the best available care: How many deaths are avoidable?” that was presented at the Asian Oncology Summit 2014 held in Kuala Lumpur.

Based on the latest statistics on trends in cancer incidence and mortality in Malaysia, the study reveals how the cancer burden is growing at an alarming pace and emphasizes the need for urgent implementation of efficient strategies to curb the disease.

Not surprisingly, the greatest numbers of avoidable deaths were from breast cancer, the most common cancer in Malaysia. The study revealed that the mortality incidence ratio for breast cancer in Malaysia is 49% compared to 16% in Australia.

“Of the 2,572 deaths due to breast cancer, 1299 (50%) were avoidable deaths” said Dr Lim Teck Onn, co-author of the study and secretary of Together against Cancer (TAC). “Of these avoidable deaths, 647 (50%) could have been prevented by getting the disease diagnosed earlier while 652 (50%) were due to lack of access to optimal treatment,” he added.

Concern about the cancer survival deficit in Malaysia contributed to the formation of TAC, an alliance of 19 non-government organisations representing cancer survivors, medical professionals and concerned Malaysians.

“The Malaysian Government through the Ministry of Health (MOH) has developed programmes to prevent and control cancer. However recent findings from MOH’s Healthcare Performance and Management Report System (HPMRS) study suggest that cancer outcomes in Malaysia lag behind those of our neighbours. Most importantly it does not commensurate with our desire to be a developed nation,” said Ranjit Kaur Pritam, Chairman of TAC and cancer survivor.

“If Malaysia matched Australia’s survival rates for breast cancer, nearly 900 deaths could be prevented annually in women whose cancer is diagnosed so late that they usually die within two years of diagnosis.”

Consistent with the World Cancer Report 2014 which showed inequality in cancer care and increasing cancer deaths amongst the world’s poor, a new Malaysian study also shows that there is a survival gap in Malaysia.

“We urgently need to do more to improve health outcomes of Malaysian cancer patients and in particular, amongst the poor and disadvantaged. This is a matter of great and urgent public interest,” she said.

This is a press release by TOGETHER AGAINST CANCER (TAC) Alliance of which PRIDE Foundation is a member. For media enquiries, please contact[email protected]

(1) GLOBOCAN2012 estimates. They are based on the most recent data available at IARC and on information publically available on the Internet, but more recent figures may be available directly from local sources.


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