East Malaysia and Breast Cancer

Breast cancer second major killer

KOTA KINABALU: Breast cancer makes up more than 10 per cent of cancer cases reported in Sabah and is the second most common cause of death among Malaysian women after heart disease. Datin Noredah Majimpi, wife of Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Osu Sukam, said approximately one out of 20 women in Malaysia will get breast cancer.

"This is a high rate indeed and one that we women should take heed of," she said when launching the mammography service introduced by the Sabah Medical Centre (SMC) at the Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort Sunday.

She said according to Sabah Health Department statistics in 1998 there were 1,132 new cancer cases reported. Of these, 121 were breast cancer.

She urged women here to be more conscious of their health by doing self-examination and to maximise the opportunity to get a check up for breast cancer with the availability of the mammography service.

"Since this is a life and death matter, there is really no reason to feel shy or embarrassed in getting a practitioner to teach us the proper method," she said.

The mammogram machine or Senographe DMR uses X-ray to perform superior imaging of the breast tissues and can detect breast cancer at an early stage or those that could not be felt during a self-examination.

It is performed for two purposes, one is diagnostic when there are symptoms of breast diseases and second is screening which means looking for possible breast diseases when one is well.

"Patients whose breast cancer is detected at an early stage have an 85 per cent chance of a cure, as well as providing for less invasive forms of surgery," she said.

Based on experience in US and in Europe, Noredah said mammography service clearly shows that it enable early detection, which in turn allows for early treatment and a better prognosis.

General statistic showed that one out of three in the world population will get cancer and in the US, one out of 10 women will eventually develop breast cancer and each year 183,000 new cases were recorded resulting in 42,000 deaths.

In this respect, she urged all doctors here to step up efforts in promoting and ensuring the health of women due to the fact that women are more prone to many diseases than men.

The level of diagnosis and treatment needs to be enhanced so as to better cater to theses specific illnesses, she said.

"I also hope that the Medical and Health Department, together with the specialists and medical institutions will intensify their efforts in the fields of medical research and investigation," she said.

There are still many medical phenomena which have yet to be diagnosed or which there are as yet no cure, she added.

She was also happy to note that SMC has a One-Stop Well Being Suite facility, to meet the increasing demand for comfort and privacy in health screening, especially among women.

Meanwhile, SMC offered 20 per cent discount on mammography service to the first 200 participants attending the Sunday function where an exhibition on breast cancer related issues.

A forum on "Know your breasts" by Senior Consultant Breast Surgeon from Kuala Lumpur Datuk Dr Suseela Nair was held after the official launching.

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