KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — Prostate cancer is the third most common cancer among Malaysian men after lung and colorectal cancers.

Based on the latest national cancer registry report in 2016, prostate cancer has a prevalence of 7.7 cases per 100,000 population in Malaysia.

What’s more interesting is that the report shows that the cancer is mostly predominant among the Malaysian Chinese ethnic group with a prevalence rate of 10.1 per 100,000 population.

The rates among the Malaysian Indian and Malay ethnic groups were reported at 6.8 and 6.3 per 100,000 population respectively.

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While some may relate the disparity to genetics, senior consultant urologist Prof Dr Ong Teng Aik said the global trend shows that the cause of the disease could also be attributed to lifestyle and dietary habits.

Senior consultant urologist Prof Dr Ong Teng Aik says almost 60 per cent of prostate cancer patients in Malaysia are diagnosed at stage four. — Picture courtesy of Prof Dr Ong Teng Aik
Senior consultant urologist Prof Dr Ong Teng Aik says almost 60 per cent of prostate cancer patients in Malaysia are diagnosed at stage four. — Picture courtesy of Prof Dr Ong Teng Aik

Citing global data, Dr Ong said the prostate cancer prevalence rate among the African-Americans in the US stood at 178.2 per 100,000 population while the rate in Australia was 123.5.

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According to him, a study from Japan showed that although prostate cancer prevalence was low in the country, they found increasing incidence among the Japanese living in the US.

“The number of cases was higher among the next generation of the Japanese who had migrated to Hawaii or San Francisco.

“Therefore, apart from genetics, we also have to look into environmental and dietary elements when it comes to prostate cancer.”

Dr Ong said the global trend also shows that the number of cases among developed Asian countries is more than three times higher than in Malaysia.

“The prevalence rate in Singapore, Japan and Korea is 30 in 100,000 population.”

According to him, the increased cases could be due to many factors, advanced healthcare systems and infrastructure to screen and detect more cases.

Highlighting the importance of early detection, Dr Ong said prostate cancer survival rate is increasingly high when it’s caught at an early stage.

However, he said over 50 per cent of the patients in Malaysia are diagnosed at stage four.

“That means out of 10 patients, about six of them are at the final stage of the disease and the cancer has already spread to other organs.

“In the US, only one in 20 newly-diagnosed prostate cancer patients are at stage four.”

Dr Ong said in Malaysia, there is still a need to create awareness about prostate cancer and early detection through regular screening.

“Prostate cancer is only fatal when it’s detected at the final stage.

“We still can effectively treat those patients who are diagnosed at an early stage.”

To increase awareness about the disease, the Urological Cancer Trust Fund at Universiti Malaya has been organising talks, workshops and public events to highlight the importance of prostate cancer screening.

The fund is also bringing back its Blue Cap Relay Run for its third time after a five-year hiatus to raise funds for the Beat Prostate Cancer Campaign 2020-2024.

The initiative is part of a five-year campaign launched in 2020 by veteran banker and prostate cancer survivor Tan Sri Nazir Razak to create awareness about the disease.

The 9km relay is expected to attract over 1,000 participants on September 24 at Universiti Malaya campus.

The participation fee for the general public, cancer survivors and family is RM150, RM90 and RM100 respectively.

Registration can be done online over here.

Malay Mail is the official media partner for the run.