In Malaysia, fewer people with cancer were detected early due to the COVID-19 phenomenon. However, this raises the likelihood of more cancer patients being missed out or diagnosed at an advanced stage, when treatment is more difficult. Therefore, in conjunction with breast, lung, and prostate cancer awareness months, the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) has joined forces with the Lung Cancer Network Malaysia (LCNM) to launch the ‘New Normal, Same Cancer’ campaign.
The campaign was officiated by Dato’ Dr Haji Noor Azmi, Deputy Health Minister, along with Dato’ Dr Saunthari Somasundaram, President of NCSM, Dr Murallitharan Munisamy, Managing Director of NCSM, Dr Anand Sachithanandan, Co-founder and President of LCNM, and Dr Sanjeev Panchal, Country President of AstraZeneca Malaysia.
Cancer is a public health concern among Malaysians, especially as it is the world’s and Malaysia’s second leading cause of death. According to IQVIA’s COVID-19 Impact on Cancer Care study, there was a 74% reduction in cancer diagnoses, with doctors noting delays in screening, check-ups, and treatment with cancer patients and high-risk groups.
The campaign aims to bring patients back to care in this new normal by providing screening vouchers and consultation on breast, lung and prostate cancers from participating hospitals nationwide.
“COVID-19 can take lives, and so can cancer. For the past one and a half years, cancer care has taken a dip as the healthcare system has been overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. Cancer is a silent killer and unbeknownst to people, it may be affecting them at this very moment. As we progress towards the new normal, we cannot ignore the elephant in the room, which is cancer. A late cancer diagnosis lowers one’s chance of survival and increases the cost of treatment and care. We need to amplify the importance of early detection, and our time to act is now,” said Dato’ Dr Saunthari Somasundaram, President of the National Cancer Society Malaysia.
According to Dato’ Dr Saunthari, this campaign with LCNM supported by AstraZeneca aims to achieve three goals: raise cancer awareness amongst the public, highlight the importance of early detection and encourage people to go for screening.
“At AstraZeneca, we are committed to go beyond the pill with innovative solutions to improve patient outcomes. An aspect of this includes patient education and public-private partnerships to drive early diagnosis for disease prevention. The New Normal, Same Cancer campaign is a global initiative since 2020 in which we have worked with professional organisations in several countries to bring cancer patients back to health care,” said Dr Sanjeev.
Postponements in cancer screening and diagnosis have resulted in a delay in patients receiving effective treatments. According to research, any gap in the cancer care process could have a negative impact on a patient’s outcomes, and therefore it’s vital that individuals seek cancer treatment immediately.
Screening vouchers could be obtained on the campaign’s website to encourage patients and the public to continue their scheduled treatments and early screenings. Screening appointments may be made at any of the 18 participating hospitals in Malaysia for added convenience.
For more information on the ‘New Normal, Same Cancer’ campaign and screening vouchers, please refer to: www.newnormalsamecancer.org
List of participating hospitals to choose from:
Bagan Specialist Centre
Borneo Medical Centre
Darul Makmur Medical Centre
Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur
KPJ Puteri Specialist Hospital
Mahkota Medical Centre
National Cancer Society Malaysia Cancer & Health Screening Clinic
Nilai Medical Centre
Pantai Hospital Ayer Keroh
Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur
Penang Adventist Hospital
Putra Medical Centre Alor Setar
Putra Specialist Hospital Melaka
SALAM Specialist Hospital Kuala Terengganu
Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre
Subang Jaya Medical Centre
Sunway Medical Centre