Did you know that as of 2018, cancer was the fourth leading cause of death in Malaysia? For your awareness, we’re sharing seven facts about cancer in Malaysia that you should know.
What is cancer?
Cancer is a disease where some of the body’s cells grow uncontrollably and spread to body parts. It can start almost anywhere in the human body which consists of trillions of cells.
Seven facts about cancer in Malaysia
1. Cancer can happen to anyone regardless of age
Some may think that cancer will only attack the elderly. The fact is cancer can also happen to young ones including babies. However, compared to adults, cancer is rare in children.
In Malaysia, the incidence of paediatric cancer is about 77.4 per million children aged less than 15 years. Additionally, in comparison to adult cancers, the cure rates for children are much higher and more than 60% of all children can now completely heal (note that each type of cancer has its own cure rate.)
2. Stages 3 and 4 cancer cases increased from 58.7% to 63.7%
The Malaysia National Cancer Registry Report (MNCRR) 2012-2016 revealed that the percentage of cancer cases detected in the late stages of 3 and 4 increased from 58.7% from 2007 to 2011 to 63.7% in 2012 to 2016.
3. Obesity is one of the causes of 13 cancer types
Former Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said that obesity is one of the contributors to as many as 13 cancer types. These include breast, colorectal, uterine, kidney, head and neck, esophageal, pancreatic, endometrium, prostate, gall bladder, and thyroid cancer.
Consultant medical oncologist Dr Azura Rozila Ahmad similarly said that obesity is one of the causes of 13 types of cancer. More worryingly, Dr Azura further said that Malaysia has the highest prevalence of obesity among adults in South-East Asia, according to the World Population Review 2019. Those who are obese are more prone to cancer compared to those with a normal body mass index (BMI), added Dr Azura.
4. One in nine females and one in 10 males in Malaysia get cancer
The Malaysia National Cancer Registry Report 2012-2016 found that cancer incidence rates from 2012 to 2016 increased by 2.3 in females. In males, the rates reduced slightly by 0.8 per 100,000 populations, compared to the 2007-2011 period.
The top three cancers among Malaysian females from 2012 to 2016 were breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer. For males, the top three were colorectal, lung, and prostate cancer.
5. Cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in Malaysia
The Malaysian study on cancer survival (MySCan) revealed that cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in Malaysia. In 2016, cancer contributed to 12.6% of all deaths in government hospitals and 26.7% in private hospitals.
Approximately, there are 37,000 new cancer diagnoses every year. The number may rise to more than 55,000 cases by 2030.
6. The survival rate for cancer patients has improved
Leukaemia and lymphoma are among the most curable cancers.
Consultant haematologist Dr Ng Soo Chin said to The Star that the belief that cancer leads to immediate death is no longer true. With optimal treatment, the majority of cancer patients go into remission and are considered cured.
7. 30-50% of cancer are preventable
According to consultant medical oncologist Dr Azura Rozila Ahmad, 30 to 50% of cancer are preventable. Practising a healthy lifestyle, keeping an ideal weight and exercising are some ways to prevent cancer.
Malaysian celebrities diagnosed with cancer
For your awareness, these are a few local celebrities who were diagnosed with cancer.
1. Actress and singer Erneelya Elyana Emrizal (Elyana)
Famous for her leading role in “Dunia Baru” and catchy song “Kalis Rindu”, Elyana revealed in 2017 that she had been living with lymphoma cancer since 2012. She found out she had stage 2 lymphoma cancer when she was only 24.
She is still battling lymphoma cancer which is now in stage 4.
2. Malaysian former badminton player Datuk Lee Chong Wei
The former long-time world no. 1 badminton player learned about his early-stage nose cancer in September 2018. He underwent 33 sessions of proton therapy treatment, where beams are aimed at the cancer.
He became cancer-free in 2019. However, after being told by his doctor that his cancer may return if he continued training, the three-time Olympic silver medallist retired from professional badminton after playing for 19 years.
3. Actress Maimunah Ahmad (Mak Jah)
73-year-old actress Mak Jah was diagnosed with stage 1 ovarian cancer in 2016.
To pay her high medical bills, she had to pawn her jewellery.
Thankfully, Mak Jah is now getting better though she has to limit her acting involvement.
4. Singer and radio announcer Myanaliza Ruslee (Maya Matahari)
At age 44, Maya Matahari passed away last year on March 18 due to sarcoma cancer.
Fellow singer and radio announcer Haiza Hanafi said that Maya didn’t share much about her illness. Haiza found out about Maya’s cancer diagnosis when Maya participated in Gegar Vaganza season 5 in 2018. At that time, Maya had just returned from China for treatment.
Prepare for your rainy day
Cancer or any illness doesn’t wait for us to be prepared. Practise a healthy lifestyle and strive to get and maintain an ideal weight to prevent yourself from cancer and other illnesses.
For better protection, consider life and medical protection to take care of your medical bills. We’ll never know whether we’ll get sick so it’s always best to prepare early. Speak today with Bjak’s non-commissioned insurance experts for more information about life and medical insurance.
(Sources: Berita Harian, CodeBlue, Elyanaofficial1’s Instagram, Harian Metro, Malaysia National Cancer Registry Report (MNCRR) 2012-2016, Malaysian Journal of Medicine and Health Sciences (Cancer: Its Alarming Trends), Malaysian Study on Cancer Survival (MySCan), Malaysian Society of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology (MASPHO), MYNEWSHUB, National Cancer Institute, New Straits Times (Mak Jah’s story), New Straits Times (Maya Matahari’s story), Olympic Channel Services, The Star, The Straits Times, The Sun daily, Yonex USA)