By Dr Nithiya Sinarajoo / Dr Yoong Lee Yeen / Professor Dr Moy Foong Ming / Professor Dr Noran Naqiah Hairi
According to the Malaysia National Cancer Registry Report (2012-2016), about 63.7% of patients were already in their advanced cancer stage (stage III and IV) at the time of their diagnosis.1
Detecting cancer early can drastically improve survival and quality of life. This in turn will significantly reduce the cost and complexity of cancer treatment.
When a cancer is detected at an early stage, the chance of survival beyond five years is higher, otherwise the survival rate will deteriorate.
A delayed diagnosis could lead to a worse prognosis and even a higher risk for death.
Comparing the risks of death within five years of cancer staging in stage 4 with stage 1, there are 7.5 times higher risks of death among female breast cancer, 5.5 times in cervical cancer, and 3.9 times in colorectal cancer. 2
The COVID-19 pandemic has left many people unsure of how and when to seek medical help. The issue for undiagnosed cancer is emerging during this pandemic.3,4
The number of people being diagnosed late with cancer has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, which have the health care professionals worried that these patients will only be treated when it is too late.3,4,5
Now many of us might ask, "I have the signs, but what should I do?" " Is it safe for me to go to the hospital?" "Will I be attended to and treated?"
Many people are likely to be nervous about visiting healthcare settings during this pandemic. Be assured that hospitals are following strict infection control rules to help minimize the threat from COVID-19.
The World Cancer Day in 2021 aims to inspire and encourage action from individuals to access early detection, screening, and diagnosis of cancer.
Early detection of cancer could yield a better prognosis and improve disease survival! Be courageous to step forward for screening, you can make a change for better!
1 National Cancer Institute. (2019). Malaysia National Cancer Registry Report (MNCR) 2012-2016.
2 National Cancer Institute. (2018). Malaysian Study On Cancer Survival (MySCan).
3 The Guardian. (2021). Early cancer diagnoses plummeted in England during Covid pandemic.
4 United Nation Registry Information Center for Western Europe. (2021). Covid-19 halts early diagnosis for cancer patients.
5 United Nations News. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 on cancer care has been 'profound', warns UN health agency.
(Dr Nithiya Sinarajoo, Dr Yoong Lee Yeen, Professor Dr Moy Foong Ming, Professor Dr Noran Naqiah Hairi, Public Health Department, Universiti Malaya Medical Center.)