Breast Cancer in Malaysia : Are Our Women Getting The Right Message? 10 Year-Experience in A Single Institution In Malaysia


The message that health care providers caring for patients with breast cancer would like to put forth, is that,not only early detection is crucial but early treatment too is important in ensuring survival. This paper examinesthe pattern of presentation at a single institution over a 10-year period from 1995 to 2005. In Malaysia, educationoutreach programmes are ongoing, with contributions not only from the public sector, but also private enterprise.Articles on breast cancer in local newspapers and women magazines and television are quite commonplace.However are our women getting the right message? Now is an appropriate time to bring the stakeholders togetherto formulate a way to reach all women in Malaysia, not excluding the fact that we are from different races,different education levels and backgrounds requiring differing ways of delivering health promotion messages.To answer the question of why women present late, we prospectively studied 25 women who presented withlocally advanced disease. A quantitative, quasi-qualitative study was embarked upon, as a prelude to a moredetailed study. Reasons for presenting late were recorded. We also looked at the pattern of presentation ofbreast lumps in women to our breast clinic in UMMC and in the surgical clinic in Hospital Kota Bharu, in thesmaller capital of the state of Kelantan, in 2003. There is hope for the future, the government being a sociallyresponsible one is currently making efforts towards mammographic screening in Malaysia. Howeverunderstanding of the disease, acceptance of medical treatment and providing resources is imperative to ensurethat health behaviour exhibited by our women is not self-destructive but self-preserving. Women are an integralpart of not only the nation’s workforce but the lifeline of the family - hopefully in the next decade we will seegreat improvement in the survival of Malaysian women with breast cancer.