IN conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) and Etiqa jointly unveiled a giant banner at the society’s building in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur.
The aim of the campaign is to raise breast cancer awareness and highlight the importance of breast screening and early detection.
To mark the month, free mammograms for underprivileged Malaysian women and various health and awareness activities are being held throughout October.
The free mammogram programme, which is in its third phase, is committed to providing free breast screening for 6,000 underprivileged Malaysian women aged 40 and above.
This community programme, which started in 2017, has benefited more than 15,500 women with 6,000 screened in phase one (2017-2018), 5,000 in phase two (2018-2019) and 4,500 in phase three (2019 to present).
NCSM principal patron Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz said cancer screening was vital because early detection could enable expedient treatment.
“Although we are now having to contend with the Covid-19 pandemic, it should not be at the expense of undergoing breast cancer screening.
“Private sector entities, such as Etiqa, have been collaborating with NCSM for the past few years by providing financial support so that underprivileged Malaysian women can undergo free screening, ” she said.
Rafidah thanked Etiqa for being an effective enabler in NCSM’s efforts to expand its outreach programmes and community screening for women in the country.
Maybank Ageas Holdings Bhd (MAHB) chairman Datuk R. Karunakaran said Etiqa had a vision of making the world a better place.
MAHB is the parent company of Etiqa General Insurance Bhd, Etiqa Life Insurance Bhd, Etiqa General Takaful Bhd and Etiqa Family Takaful Bhd.
“Our organisational culture is to make things fast and easy, whether it is to purchase, submit claims or receive payouts.
“We are extending that philosophy to the community by letting women know that getting screened is just as fast and easy, ” he added.
Karunakaran said early detection was important in improving breast cancer survival rates, especially among underprivileged women.
“We urge women who are eligible to sign up for this programme, ” he said.
NCSM president Dr Saunthari Somasundram said breast cancer remained the most common cancer among women globally.
According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019, three in four women aged 40 and above have never had a mammogram, she said.
“The percentage of late diagnosis (stage three and stage four) has also increased, as detailed in the Malaysian National Cancer Registry Report, ” she said, adding that from 2012 to 2016,47.9% were diagnosed at later stages while 43.2% diagnosed from 2007 to 2011.
Dr Saunthari said the five-year relative survival rate for breast cancer was 66.8%, according to the Malaysian Study on Cancer Survival.
“These numbers are alarming and there is a dire need to flatten the mortality curve.
“This Pink October, our message to the community is to get yourself screened, ” she said.
For details on NCSM’s activities throughout this month, visit www.cancer.org.my
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