‘Healthcare delivery in public and private wings similar’

KUALA LUMPUR: The Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) has assured that its healthcare delivery in both the public and private wings are of similar standards even though the latter appears to have higher breast cancer survival rate than the former.

The difference in the survival rate was because a substantial proportion of patients in the public wing tend to be present with advanced stage cancers, the UMMC breast cancer team said.

The team said based on its studies, about 40% of the patients treated in the public wing had advanced stage cancer compared to 25% in the private wing.

“Notably, 14% of public patients presented with metastatic or incurable disease while in the private wing, less than 5% had metastatic disease at the time of presentation,” it said in a statement to The Star yesterday.

The team was responding to the report “Higher survival rate in private hospitals” published in The Star on Tuesday.

In the report, The Star had quoted National Cancer Society of Malaysia president Dr S. Saunthari saying that in a study of 2,767 patients from UMMC, public side and 1,199 patients from University Malaya Specialist Centre (UMSC, private wing) last year, the overall survival rate for UMMC was 71% compared with 87% at UMSC.

“The study comparing breast cancer survival disparity between a public and private hospital showed the overall survival rate was significantly different,” she said at the World Cancer Leaders’ Summit in conjunction with the 2018 World Cancer Congress on Monday.

However, she was also quoted as saying that the difference in the outcome was because patients in the public sector had more advanced cancers and were more likely to receive surgery and chemotherapy but not radiotherapy due to fear and logistics reasons.

Meanwhile, private patients in UMSC were more economically stable and open to second opinions, which allayed their fears and they continued their treatments.

On this note, the UMMC team assured that there was no difference in treatment given to public and private patients.

“The provision of cancer care by a multi-disciplinary team in a public hospital is as good as in a private hospital,” it said.

It echoes the message from the recent World Cancer Leader Summit in Kuala Lumpur that early detection remains an important strategy in improving survival following cancer, it said.

“As a national centre that treats a substantial number of breast cancer patients, we would like to advocate that policies on breast cancer control in the country are focused on efforts to get Malaysian women with breast cancer to be diagnosed early, followed by timely treatment,” it said.

The study could be found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409628/ and any questions may be sent to Bcrcad@gmail.com.

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