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Cancer awareness low among Malaysians

EXCLUSIVE: PETALING JAYA: Over the years, cancer has become a common phenomenon in Malaysia, as more and more people are diagnosed with the disease, but many Malaysians are unaware of the specifics of the condition.

When the Star Online talked to people in the streets and cafés of Bangsar, we learnt that many are generally only aware of three types of cancer … lung, breast and leukemia.

Engineering student, Resh, 26 said that she only knew of two cancers and was surprised when she was told of the 200 types of cancer.

“We all know of breast cancer because we have an annual mammogram thing in our university, plus breast cancer awareness is everywhere, even in bars.

“I knew about leukemia after I read this book called My Sister’s Keeper,” she said explaining that the only thing she knew about it was it needed the bone marrow of someone else,” she said.

School teacher Nazlina said that she did not find the need to read up about cancer- yet. “I have never found the need to do so and I hope that I never have to.

“I am not demeaning those who have cancer, but I personally believe that it is not of utmost importance for me to know much about,” said Nazlina who could only list breast cancer off the top of her head.

Research by the National Cancer Institute shows that over 200 types of cancer have been identified to this point and the three types which Malaysians are aware about are in fact not the most common among Malaysians.

Statistics by the Health Ministry show that the most common cancer among Men in the period of 2007 until 2011 was colorectal, followed by lung, nasopharynx, lymphoma and prostate.

For females on the other hand, the most common is breast cancer, followed by colorectal, cervical, ovary and lung.

Director General Hisham Abdullah said in recent years, approximately 30,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed annually.

“In 2012, lung cancer contributed to 19.9 percent of all deaths caused by cancer in MOH hospitals throughout the country.

“This number was followed by 9.6 percent for breast cancer, 8.7 percent for colorectal cancer, 7.3 percent for liver cancer and 6.8 percent for leukemia,” he said when contacted.

It is high time for the community to realise that awareness is the first step to prevention as the ability to identify the symptoms at an early stage helps with treatment for the patient.


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