PETALING JAYA: Every state hospital in the country will have a cancer centre within the next five to 10 years.
This is one of the proposed thrusts of the Health Ministry’s updated national cancer control blueprint to better address the killer disease.
Health Ministry (medical) deputy director-general Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai said this initiative was part of the Government’s efforts to make cancer treatment more accessible for patients nationwide.
“We want to make treatment more available and cheaper for patients. However, having these cancer centres that are closer to patients cannot happen overnight.
“Building the centres and populating them with doctors and paramedics will take time and planning. We anticipate that we can achieve this within five to 10 years,” he said in an interview recently.
There are five regional cancer centres in the country, including in Penang.
Dr Jeyaindran said the updated cancer plan was expected to be rolled out before the end of the year.
“For now, the ministry is in the midst of reviewing elements in the blueprint,” he said, adding that the new plan aimed at optimising delivery of cancer treatment to the people and improve the national cancer database.
Last week, The Star frontpaged a report that the national cancer control blueprint, implemented between 2008 and 2015, will be updated and refined to better tackle the growing prevalence of the disease.
If no measures were taken to counter the disease, 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.
Among the most common types of cancers here are breast (14.5%), colorectal (12.1%), lung (11.8%), cervical (5.7%) and nasopharyngeal (5.4%).
A study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2012 showed that breast cancer deaths were five times more than that of prostate cancer in Malaysia.
On whether the recent budget cuts would dampen the implementation of the new cancer plan, Dr Jeyaindran said it would not be a problem because it only affected the ministry’s operational costs, and not the delivery of healthcare.
“Part of the plan is also to develop more doctors to treat cancer cases. We are trying to encourage specialist doctors to sub-specialise in oncology, if we cannot produce full-time oncologists.
“For example, a gynaecologist can sub-specialise in oncology and thus, will be able to treat cervical, ovarian and uterine cancers,” he added.
He said this was a faster way to develop doctors in cancer treatment as opposed to producing pure oncologists.
At present, Malaysia only has 37 oncologists, making the ratio of such doctors to citizens 1:750,000.
This is really lacking compared to other countries like Britain, which have a ratio of 1:250,000.
Dr Jeyaindran said it was equally important for the people to be aware of early detection in cancer management.
“Early detection is a significant factor in surviving cancer,” he said, urging Malaysians to take care of their health.
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