Cancer cases number expected to double: Seven steps to lower the risk

25 Feb 2024 10:30am
Photo for illustration purposes. - 123RF
Photo for illustration purposes. - 123RF

The number of cancer patients is predicted to increase every year.

The Department of Statistics Malaysia 2023 report showed that cancer was the fourth-highest cause of death.

It witnessed an increase to 12.6 per cent in 2022 compared to 10.5 per cent the previous year.

Experts also predicted that the number of cancer patients in Malaysia will double by the year 2040.

Statistics also showed that there were about 48,639 new cancer patients and 29,530 cancer-related deaths reported in 2020.

Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said based on the Health Facts Report Malaysia 2023, cancer was also among the leading causes of death in private hospitals, accounting for 26.44 per cent, and the fourth in Health Ministry’s hospitals with 9.29 per cent.

"This high mortality can also be associated with the late detection of the disease which were at stages III and IV, which accounted for over 60 per cent of all reported cancer cases, according to the Malaysian Cancer Registry report," he said.

He added that the registry’s data showed that a total of 168,822 new cases have been reported for a five-year period from 2017 to 2021.

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Liver cancer was one of the five most common cancers in Malaysia while the others were breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer and nasopharyngeal cancer.

"Primary liver cancer, which originates from within the liver itself, unfortunately, has one of the worst prognosis because it is often diagnosed at a late stage when symptoms have appeared," he said.

Therefore, he called on all parties including non-governmental organisations to collaborate with the government to assist in cancer care and provide support to patients.

Here are seven tips according to Mayo Clinic's website that can be practiced to reduce the risk of the disease:

1. Avoid tobacco use by quitting smoking

- Smoking can be associated with various types of cancer, including lungs, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney.

- Being around passive smokers can also increase the risk of lung cancer.

2. Practice a healthy diet by consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables, reduce processed food intake and limit alcohol consumption

- Alcohol increases the risk of breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver cancers.

- Processed food intake also increases the risk of certain types of cancer.

3. Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active

- Healthy physical activities could reduce the risk of breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney cancers.

4. Protect yourself from the sun

- Prevent skin cancer by avoiding strong sunlight, staying in the shade, wearing skin-covering clothing and using sunscreen with at least SPF 30.

5. Get Hepatitis B and Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines

- Hepatitis B can increase the risk of liver cancer.

- HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer and other genital cancers.

6. Avoid risky behaviours by practicing safe sex and not sharing needles

- People with HIV or AIDS have a higher risk of having anal, liver, and lung cancers.

- HPV is most commonly associated with cervical cancer, but it may also increase the risk of anal, penile, throat, vulva and vaginal cancers.

7. Seek medical treatment regularly

- Perform regular self-examinations and undergo screenings for cancers such as skin, colon, cervix and breast cancer.

- Early detection of cancer can increase the effectiveness of the treatment.

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