PETALING JAYA: Cancer is a big killer and it is set to be a bigger killer with a 54% jump in new cases by 2025 if we do nothing about it.
Adding to the problem is the fact that Malaysia does not have enough oncologists to treat the rising number of cancer patients.
Now, the Government is seriously updating and intensifying its national cancer control blueprint for a better combat strategy against the disease, made worse by the increasingly unhealthy lifestyle habits and bad dietary choices, among other things.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said Malaysia has had a national plan to control cancer since 2008 but its duration was only until 2015.
“We will update and continue with the plan to further address cancer in the country,” he said in an interview.
The ministry has begun its groundwork to fortify the plan by consulting stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations for their input on the plan, to last up to 2020.
The introduction of the national cancer control blueprint in 2008 led, among others, to the formation of the National Cancer Institute in 2013.
Among the key priorities in the previous blueprint were early detection, developing human capital, providing accessible treatment and coming up with national standards and codes of practice on cancer management.
On the insufficient number of oncologists in the country currently, Dr Subramaniam said steps were being taken to train more specialists, adding: “Programmes are being implemented now.”
If nothing is done about the situation, the number of new cancer cases in Malaysia is expected to shoot up by 54% from 37,000 in 2012 to 56,932 in 2025.
This is based on projections from Globocan, the specialised cancer agency of the World Health Organisation.
It was reported that about 90,000 to 100,000 people in Malaysia are battling with cancer at any one time, with many new cases left unregistered every year.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said efforts to increase the number of oncologists were part of the blueprint.