Breast cancer awareness vital: Minister

KOTA KINABALU: Several breast cancer preventive programmes have been developed by various ministries in Malaysia, said State Health and People’s Wellbeing Minister Datuk Poon Ming Fung.

He said among them are the RM50 subsidy for mammogram by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, Information System of Pap Smear programme (SIPPS), a call-recall system for women to do pap smear and clinical breast examination (CBE) by the Ministry of Health.

All these programmes, he added, are government efforts to encourage the public to do early detection so that those diagnosed with breast cancer can receive proper treatment.

“Extensive research and study have been done worldwide and the one thing experts and professionals have learned is that early detection is important.

“In fact, early detection is critical for survival so that prompt referral to diagnosis and proper treatment can be undertaken.

“When cancer is detected late, it makes treatment difficult and lowers the chances of survival.

“Early detection is crucial for a successful fight to beat the disease or overcome it.  So how can we detect breast cancer early?

“We can, by raising awareness on the illness.  We have to make the public, especially the female population, aware of what they may be affected with breast cancer and when they do, what they must do next.

“This dissemination of information is done through events, functions, road shows and campaigns,” Poon said in his speech read by his Assistant Minister, Norazlinah Arif, at the Fashion Show Pinktober Tea Party, organised by the Kinabalu Cancer Support Association, at the Palace Hotel ballroom, here, Saturday.

According to Poon, as the Minister of Health, he was alarmed by the increasing rate of breast cancer affecting women in Malaysia.

“Malaysia has one of the lowest survival rates for breast cancer in Asia Pacific, based on a report…this is very worrying.

“Breat cancer is the most common cancer among females worldwide.  In 2014, it was the number one killer in our country.

“However, today, it is the fourth cancer killer affecting women here in Malaysia, according to a local study titled “Who are the Breast Cancer Survivors in Malaysia?

“This mentality that cancer is a death sentence is very dangerous because it creates fear among sufferers who will not be open to health screening, early check-ups and proper treatment.

“On the local front, Kinabalu Pink Ribbon (KPR) has been doing its share of the work for about 10 years now and as you know, it is the international symbol of breast cancer awareness,” he said.

Meanwhile, KPR President Nancy Tham said the event was to raise at least RM30,000 to help the deserving breast cancer patients.

According to her, the money will help the patients to defray the cost of transportation and/or living expenses during their treatment at the hospital.

“Thus far, KPR has given out close to RM90,000 of Patient Welfare Fund which was set up in 2013. For year 2020, it is our hope that KPR will be able to give out another RM30,000.

“Besides financial assistance, KPR is also provides emotional support and mental counselling to patients newly diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said.

By: Cynthia D Baga

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