Seek doctors instead of alternative treatments, health minister advises cancer patients

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad (fourth left) at the launch of the World Cancer Day 2020 campaign at KL Sentral, Kuala Lumpur February 4, 2020. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad (fourth left) at the launch of the World Cancer Day 2020 campaign at KL Sentral, Kuala Lumpur February 4, 2020. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 — Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad has discouraged the public from over-relying on alternative forms of medication. Instead, he urged patients to meet doctors and use evidence-based treatment for aliments like cancer.

Speaking at the launch of the World Cancer Day 2020 campaign at KL Sentral, he said the Malaysian National Cancer Registry Report 2012-2016 indicated that 60 per cent of cancer cases are detected late, usually in Stage Three or Stage Four.

“Detecting cancer at late stages lead to higher cost of treatment and chances of cure. Some Malaysians have a strong preponderance and belief in alternative traditional treatment,” Dzulkefly said.

In many of these instances, the minister said patients sought faith healers as their first treatment choice after being diagnosed, seeking only medical attention after such methods fail to produce results.

Later on, he stressed the importance of educating the public, adding it is a collective effort by both the government, agencies, NGOs, and society as a whole.

“We need to emphasise that cancer is both preventable and treatable, owing to several factors including unhealthy lifestyle choices.

“Most of those who seek out alternative treatment tend to hail from the lower middle income rung of society. We strongly discourage them from relying on this,” Dzulkefly said.

Instead those suffering from cancer at any stage ought to consider the efficacy of treatments based on evidence-based outcomes.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks during the World Cancer Day event in Kuala Lumpur February 4, 2020.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks during the World Cancer Day event in Kuala Lumpur February 4, 2020.

“Early detection and prompt treatment improves one’s chances of cure in cancer. One should also go for cancer screenings such as those offered by the MySalam National Health Protection Scheme for the B40 category.

“Above all else, the public ought to rely on that which is proven to work, instead of what is merely claimed to do so by outsiders. Always look at the evidence,” he said.

The Malaysian National Cancer Registry recorded a total of 115,238 new cases from 2012 to 2016, with a significant increase in the number of newly diagnosed cancer cases in the country for the past five years.

The most common cases of cancers are breast cancer at 34.1 per cent, colourectal cancer at 11.1 per cent, trachea, bronchus and lung cancer at 9.8 per cent, lymphoma at 5.1 per cent, and nasopharynx cancer at four per cent.

World Cancer Day aims to empower the public by calling them to action for personal commitment and individual action in reducing the aliment’s impact upon society.

With its slogan of “I Am and I Will”, the campaign seeks to address the issues of awareness, understanding and misinformation, prevention and risk reduction, the mental and emotional impact, the financial and economic burden of cancer, reducing the skill gap of skilled healthcare workers, and working together as one.

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