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Cancer mortality very high in M'sia: TAC
Published on: Wednesday, January 27, 2016
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Kota Kinabalu: Cancer deaths have been declining in the United States and developed countries since the 1990s.Deputy Chairman of Together Against Cancer Association Malaysia (TAC), Dr Lim Teck Onn, revealed this at the recent TAC-organised Malaysian Experience Exchange for Patient Organisations (Meepo) Capacity Building Workshop.

"In contrast, cancer mortality is very high in Malaysia. This is one of the two consequences of getting cancer in Malaysia.

For instance, there were 136,836 deaths in the population in 2012 and of this figure, 21,700 were cancer deaths," he told the workshop.

According to him, 50 to 80pc of breast cancer deaths in Malaysia that year were avoidable while attributing this state of affairs to late presentation and lack of treatment.

"Statistics indicate that of the 2,572 breast cancer deaths, some 1299 were avoidable. Avoidable deaths due to late presentation totalled 647 and the remaining 652 deaths were due to lack of treatment.

"These avoidable deaths are not due to differences in the response to treatment or the type of breast cancer.

Rather these are deaths that might be avoided if cancer was caught earlier or if patient received the appropriate treatment," Dr Lim asserted.

The other consequence of getting cancer is financial distress and medical bankruptcy, prompting the deputy chairman to label cancer as financially toxic.

In his paper on Cancer Health Facts: Everything you need to know to protect yourself and your family from the consequences of cancer, the doctor said there are almost 40,000 new cancer cases (all cancers) in Malaysia every year.

The Top 10 Cancers in Malaysia are breast, intestine (colorectum), lung, cervix, throat (nasopharynx), stomach, blood (leukaemia), liver, lymphoma and ovary.

"Cancer is the fourth disease burden in Malaysia after circulatory diseases (heart disease, stroke, etc), infections (chest, HIV/AIDS, typhoid, TB, etc) and injuries (road injury, other forms of transport, etc)," said Dr Lim.

Meanwhile, 80 of the world's top medical researchers will meet here in April to analyse the results of a mayor study on breast and ovarian cancer.

Cancer Research Malaysia chief executive officer Prof Dr Teo Soo Hwang said the results on the study involving 200,000 cancer patients and a similar number of healthy women would enable researchers to delve further into the biology of how the diseases develop.

"The results of this massive study will also help point the way as to how we might treat patients more effectively," she said.

Dr Teo said the research involved analysing 600,000 genetic markers for each of the women who took part in the study.

"The depth of the research is incredible since it covers so much genome.

"This working meeting will enable us to finalise our results in this ultimate search for cancer genes," she added.

She said the meeting would be attended by a consortium of medical researchers representing 44 organisations from 15 countries.

Among them would be a University of Cambridge geneticist Prof Doug Easton and a radiation and epidemiology specialist from Sweeden's Karolinska University Prof Per Hall.

Other participating groups include those from Harvard University, the Mayo Clinic as well as the University of California Los Angeles and University of Calfornia, San Francisco.

Dr Teo said Cancer Research Malaysia, a non-profit organisation, and Universiti Malaya made up a big part of the Asian component of the consortium of researchers.

She said this was the first time such a meeting was held in Asia and it was aimed at creating more awareness about ongoing research and the participation of more Asian researchers as well.

Dr Teo said getting more Asian input into the study was important since as much as 90pc of current research involved Caucasian cancer patients.


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