DID you know that one in 19 women in Malaysia are expected to develop breast cancer in their lifetime?
According to the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM), breast cancer accounts for 32% of all cancers among women.
While breast cancer cases in Malaysia are lower than other developed countries, the mortality rate is higher because of late-stage presentation and detection.
During the launch of Etiqa’s Free Mammogram Programme, NCSM principal patron Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz presented the statistics and highlighted the need for more awareness of early detection for breast cancer.
“Within society, there are those who do not have the means to go for cancer screening, and when they are deprived of this, it is a loss.”
Rafidah commended Etiqa for coming forward with the programme, which will see to 5,000 underprivileged women aged 40 and above getting free breast cancer screening.
“The battle against cancer requires many sectors to work together; apart from complementing the Government’s cancer screening programmes, this is a great example of how such a collaboration can unite private healthcare, NGOs and corporations,” she said.
Working in collaboration with NCSM, Etiqa will embark on a year-long journey to grassroots communities to carry out the screenings, and the programme is said to be worth RM1.67mil over one year.
Etiqa Insurance Bhd and Etiqa Takaful Bhd chairman Datuk R. Karunakaran said insurance claims for cancer were the highest of all critical illness claims, with 86% coming from female critical illness insurance claims and 48% were attributed to breast cancer.
“It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, and if caught in its early stages, I’m told that it can be effectively treated.
“We believe the programme can be of help,” he noted.
Maybank Ageas Holdings Bhd chief executive officer Kamaludin Ahmad said they were optimistic the programme would be a success.
“We are working with local community leaders to help us identify women in households with income less than RM5,000 in our first phase, and we will go region by region.
“We started last week, whereby we reached out to about 200 women in Cameron Highlands, Pahang,” he said.
Maybank Ageas Holdings Bhd is the parent company of Etiqa Insurance Bhd, Etiqa Takaful Bhd and Etiqa Insurance Pte Ltd Singapore.
NCSM president and medical director Dr Saunthari Somasunda-ram said NCSM would go to grassroots communities to select women for the programme by working with local mammography centres and hospitals.
She said the process did not stop at the screenings.
“Should there be cases that come back as ‘positive’ or ‘abnormal’, we will set up a referral system that not just refers patients to a hospital, but there will be links to connect them to support centres throughout their treatment.
“That includes patient groups, communities that support people with cancer and local hospitals.”
Dr Saunthari said the programme was not just about carrying out mammograms, but an integral part of it was to create awareness as well.
“Women are susceptible to breast cancer; we need to be proactive, learn the risk factors and make changes, and that includes doing a screening.”
NCSM works with local communities and NGOs across the country to identify underprivileged women for this programme.
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