PETALING JAYA: With more people expected to be diagnosed with cancer in coming years, there is an urgent need for Malaysians to undergo screening and early diagnosis for successful treatment and improve their chances of survival.
According to the National Cancer Society of Malaysia, about 37,000 new cancer cases and 22,000 cancer deaths are reported yearly.
Its president Dr Saunthari Somasundram said screening was the most sustainable way to reduce the global cancer burden in the long term.
“Cancer screening and early diagnosis have a major impact on the survival rate of patients in most types of cancer, including the more prevalent ones such as breast, cervical, colorectal and lung.
“Appropriate screening and secondary preventive interventions promote more successful treatments,” she said in her message for the World Cancer Day celebration today.
She said effective cancer prevention should begin at the national level, with a control plan responding to the country’s cancer burden and risk factor prevalence.
Dr Saunthari said early screening reduced the incidence of deaths from cancer, adding that early detection would make treatment easier and more effective compared to when the cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage.
“With the knowledge that more than a third of cancers are preventable and a third of cancers are curable if detected early and treated correctly, public education and screening should continue to be the key areas of focus in the years ahead,” she added.
Dr Saunthari said there was also a need to address cancer challenges such as negative beliefs and attitudes and for new campaigns conducted via websites and social media to reinforce the importance of cancer screening and early detection.
She added that the government, communities, employers and the media should play their roles to challenge perceptions about cancer in a culture where people are empowered to access quality cancer prevention and care.