Move to help cancer patients

PETALING JAYA: Cancer impacts a person’s mental well-being, finances and physical health, making it challenging and difficult to battle.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the number of people being diagnosed with cancer keeps growing.

“In 2020, the number of people with cancer was 49,000 and by 2030, it is estimated that the figure would hit 66,000.

“Some of the problems faced by the ministry is that it only discovers patients have cancer when they have reached stage three of four. This cuts down their survival rate.”

He said cancer would be less treatable if the government continues to use present treatment methods, adding that affordable care is a big problem for many people and therefore they have to rely on the government for their treatment.

While pointing out that precision medicine using genetic markers is a luxury, he said the ministry was looking at ways to increase cancer screening, adding that genetic markers make it easier to treat cancer patients as the treatment could be tailored to the individual, as there is no “one size fits all treatment” when it comes to cancer.

“Precision medicine tailors medical care to individuals based on information from genomic testing.

“It will reveal the genetic make-up of the disease,” he said at the launch of a tripartite collaboration between Prudential Malaysia, AstraZenca and Pantai Premier Pathology to give patients access to genomic testing for a more accurate diagnosis of their cancer based on genetic profiling.

Precision medicine looks at a patient’s genes, behaviour and environment to determine unique disease risks and the treatment that would work best.

It provides information that is unique to a patient to diagnose the illness and find treatment that would work best for that particular illness.

Khairy said it was the government’s objective to make health screening accessible to everyone, adding that by doing so, lives could be saved as those affected would not have to wait until they are critically ill to seek treatment.

“One way to achieve this is through public-private partnership, which could help reduce costs to the government,” he said, adding that the ministry wants to promote a healthy lifestyle for all Malaysians.

Cancer and diseases such as heart conditions and diabetes, which fall under non-communicable diseases (NCD) cost the government RM8.91 billion in 2020. The intangible costs of treating NCD is estimated to be RM100 billion, or just over 7% of gross domestic product.

Khairy said it was the government’s objective to make health screening accessible to everyone. – BERNAMAPIX