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Media Release - Saturday, April 12, 2014

Media Release - Cancer Deaths Could Be Avoided with Effective Cancer Care Strategy




50% of Cancer Deaths in Malaysia Could Be Avoided With an Effective National Cancer Care Strategy

Saturday, April 12, 2014                                                 

Kuala Lumpur: Nearly half of cancer deaths in Malaysia could be avoided if patients had access to optimal treatment and early detection of cancer, according to a research titled “What if cancer patients in Malaysia have access to the best available care: How many deaths are avoidable?” that was presented at the Asian Oncology Summit 2014 held in Kuala Lumpur.

Based on the latest statistics on trends in cancer incidence and mortality in Malaysia (1), the study reveals how the cancer burden is growing at an alarming pace and emphasizes the need for urgent implementation of efficient strategies to curb the disease.

Not surprisingly, the greatest numbers of avoidable deaths were from breast cancer, the most common cancer in Malaysia. The study revealed that the mortality incidence ratio for breast cancer in Malaysia is 49% compared to 16% in Australia. “Of the 2,572 deaths due to breast cancer, 1299 (50%) were avoidable deaths” said Dr Lim Teck Onn, co-author of the study and secretary of Together against Cancer (TAC).  “Of these avoidable deaths, 647 (50%) could have been prevented by getting the disease diagnosed earlier while 652 (50%) were due to lack of access to optimal treatment,” he added.

Concern about the cancer survival deficit in Malaysia contributed to the formation of TAC, an alliance of 19 non-government organisations representing cancer survivors, medical professionals and concerned Malaysians. “The Malaysian Government through the Ministry of Health (MOH) has developed programmes to prevent and control cancer. However recent findings from MOH’s Healthcare Performance and Management Report System (HPMRS) study suggest that cancer outcomes in Malaysia lag behind those of our neighbours. Most importantly it does not commensurate with our desire to be a developed nation,” said Ranjit Kaur Pritam, Chairman of TAC and cancer survivor. “If Malaysia matched Australia’s survival rates for breast cancer, nearly 900 deaths could be prevented annually in women whose cancer is diagnosed so late that they usually die within two years of diagnosis.”

Consistent with the World Cancer Report 2014 which showed inequality in cancer care and increasing cancer deaths amongst the world’s poor, a new Malaysian study also shows that there is a survival gap in Malaysia. “We urgently need to do more to improve health outcomes of Malaysian cancer patients and in particular, amongst the poor and disadvantaged. This is a matter of great and urgent public interest,” she said.


For media enquiries, please contact  tacsecretariat2013@gmail.com


GLOBOCAN2012 estimates. They are based on the most recent data available at IARC and on information publically available on the Internet, but more recent figures may be available directly from local sources.

About TAC

Together against Cancer (TAC) is an alliance of 19 non-government organizations comprising survivors, healthcare professionals, care-givers and general public who are interested in advancing the rights of cancer patients for standard of care and equitable access to cancer treatment. The coalition was formed in October 2013 and it aims to advocate to the Government national level strategies and measures to prioritise cancer as one of the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that needs urgent action. TAC aims to be a strategic supporter and partner to the Malaysian Government particularly the Ministry of Health in creating awareness on the needs and welfare of cancer patients across the country. TAC aims to provide action plans that can be implemented to combat the rising trend of cancer in Malaysia.

TAC comprises

1. National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM)

2. Colorectal Cancer Survivorship Society Malaysia (CORUM)

3. Malaysian Oncological Society (MOS)

4. Cancer Healthcare Advocacy Committee (CHAC)

5. Cancer Research Initiative Foundation (CARIF)

6. NCD Alliance Malaysia (NCD)

7. PRIDE Foundation

8. Breast Cancer Welfare Association (BCWA)

9. Pink Ribbon Wellness(L)Foundation

10. Cervical Cancer Awareness Association (CARES)

11. Childhood Cancer Caring Society of KL

12. Lion Club of KL Sentul-Cancer Support Sharing Group

13. SJMC NPC Support Group

14. The National Council for Women's Organisations Malaysia (NCWO)

15. College of Radiology Malaysia

16. Malaysia Thoracic Society

17. Persatuan Pink Champion Perak

18. Kinabalu Breast Cancer Support Association

19. Sarawak Breast Cancer Support Group

(in no particular order)


ABOUT TAC Call For Action

Together against Cancer (TAC) calls for clarity on Malaysia’s cancer control plan and a discussion on how best to ensure that the most effective treatment is given to every patient, at the right time at an affordable cost. TAC would like to propose to health authorities a package of measures to ensure that every patient have access to standard treatment while allowing for control and planned growth of Government spending on cancer care.


The proposals include two main elements:

 In the short-term:

  • To establish a National Cancer Drugs Fund of RM50 million a year which is intended as a stop-gap measure prior to 2015, when the Government plans to introduce the new health system.

In the long-term:

  • To strengthen our Malaysian Cancer Control Plan by involving all concerned parties and underpinned by evidence-based research, to help reverse the negative trends in the national incidence of cancer and healthcare performance.

In particular, the “Together against Cancer Alliance” are ready and keen to partner with the Government through the Ministry of Health to:

  • Promote healthy living and prevention of cancer
  • Identify and Implement effective and targeted screenings programmes and
  • Ensure that strategies for timely and evidence-based clinical management (especially treatment)
  • Ensure access to palliative care and support 
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