KUALA LUMPUR: Lung Cancer Network Malaysia is offering free cancer screening for individuals aged between 45 and 75 who have a history of smoking for more than two decades.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad lauded the non-government organisation's move to collaborate with healthcare providers in the Klang Valley and Melaka to offer free screening using low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan.
"The free screening is offered to high-risk groups, as early detection is vital to increase to 56% the likelihood of surviving five years or more," Dr Dzulkefly said.
He said this when opening a "Save The Green Lung" campaign at Pantai Hospital here on Thursday (Nov 21).
Dr Dzulkefly said lung cancer was one of the deadliest cancers, but the majority of cases were detected at an advanced stage.
According to the Malaysian study on cancer survival, the survival rate for lung cancer was the worst with a median survival time of only 6.8 months.
Alarmingly, between 89% and 91% of Malaysians were diagnosed with lung cancer only at the advanced stage.
"The mortality rate of lung cancer is higher than breast and colon cancers," said Dr Dzulkefly.
As smoking posed a deadly threat to public health, the Health Ministry is resolved in expanding smoking ban beyond eateries.
"The Tobacco Control Act is expected to be implemented in the first quarter of 2020," he said.
Punitive action include RM10,000 fine and a maximum two-year jail sentence.
"Under the National Strategic Plan for non-communicable disease, Malaysia aims to reduce smoking prevalence to 15% by 2025.
Malaysia aspires to be a tobacco-free nation by 2045.
Under a five-year national strategic plan (2015-2020) on Tobacco Control, initiatives undertaken include empowering communities to "denormalise" smoking habit and ensuring younger citizens say "No" to smoking.
Lung Cancer Network Malaysia co-founder Dr Tho Lye Mun said early diagnosis was vital to save lives.
"We are working with seven partner hospitals, including Pantai Kuala Lumpur, to offer free low-dose CT snanning for individuals at risk. The offer is limited to November, which is the Lung Cancer Awareness month," he said.