According to Our World In Data, every sixth death in the world is attributed to some form of cancer, and it is the second highest leading cause of death annually, with cardiovascular diseases taking precedence at number one.
Closer to home, cancer is the fourth leading cause of deaths in Malaysia and almost 60% of cases are only detected at Stage III and Stage IV. When detected at a later stage, survival rates for patients are slim, even more so for the elderly.
These are the top three cancers in both Malaysian men and women, according to Health Minister, Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad.
Source: New Straits Times Malaysia
A very personal matter for many: most individuals would have known or lost someone dear to them in the battle against cancer. Here, we would like to highlight some steps to take in early detection and prevention, and how one can get community support for individuals with cancer in Malaysia.
Where Prevention Starts With Action
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – Benjamin Franklin
By remembering World Cancer Day, more individuals are able to act on early detection and prevention of cancer, as opposed to only coming across the disease when they have fallen ill. At least one third of cancers can be prevented, therefore reducing the risks of cancer.
The best thing one can do is to listen to their own body. Most cancers such as cervical, breast, colorectal, skin and oral can show signs and symptoms that something isn’t quite right. An individual can detect these early warning signs without the need for any specialist technologies.
The American Cancer Society developed this simple reminder:
- C: Change in bowel or bladder routine
- A: A sore that does not heal
- U: Unfamiliar bleeding or discharge
- T: Thickening or lump in the breast or other parts of the body
- I: Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
- O: Obvious change in a wart or mole
- N: Nagging cough or hoarseness
Here are 10 tips to early cancer prevention:
- Quit smoking: Smokers are more susceptible (about 20-40 times) to the risk of lung cancer compared to non-smokers.
- Get enough Vitamin D: Although protection is far from proven, evidence suggests that Vitamin D may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, and other malignancies.
- However, too much of a good thing can also be bad. Protect your skin from the sun: In a tropical country like Malaysia with summer all year, protect yourself against ultraviolet radiation which increases the risk of melanomas and other skin cancers.
- You are what you eat: By reducing your intake of food with saturated fat and red meat, you lower the chances of getting colon cancer and the riskier form of prostate cancer.
- Be physically active – even for 30 minutes a day: Physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer.
- Get immunized: Vaccines such as HPV vaccine and Hepatitis B vaccine help protect the body against some cancer types such as cervical and liver cancer.
- Be in the know of your family medical history and get a regular cancer screening. Sharing is caring.
- Quality time with quality sleep: Studies show increased risks for several types of cancer — including breast, prostate, and thyroid — are linked to disrupted, poor quality sleep.
- Avoid infections that contribute to cancer: Some viruses can cause or contribute to the development of cancer. These viruses are called oncogenic viruses. It’s estimated that viruses account for about 20 percent of cancers. And there may be more oncogenic viruses that experts aren’t aware of yet.
- Avoid exposure to industrial and environmental toxins such as asbestos fibres, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
Cancer Support Groups In Malaysia
Support groups provide a safe space for families and loved ones to share and learn from different individuals and cancer who have been through similar challenges and to encourage others who are still in remission.
We wrote an article about the various support groups you can find in Malaysia. You can read more here.
Caring For Cancer Survivors
Taking care of family members or individuals with cancer can be physically or emotionally trying for their caregivers, especially since they would be the ones who see the changes first hand, happening to the person they love right before their eyes.
At Homage, we have cared for individuals post-cancer through our care services such as personal care with healthy meals, simple exercises and assisting in medications so that individuals are able to carry out their day-to-day as seamless as possible; with grace, comfort and dignity.