Risk-Stratified Breast Cancer Screening in Malaysia: Challenges and Opportunities

Document Type : Systematic Review and Meta-analysis


1 Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Manipal University College Malaysia, Melaka, Malaysia.

2 Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University (Malaysia), Jalan Lagoon Selatan, Bandar Sunway, Selangor, Malaysia.

3 South East Asia Community Observatory (SEACO), Monash University (Malaysia), Jalan Lagoon, Selatan, Bandar Sunway, Selangor State, Malaysia.

4 Centre for Public Health and UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, Northern, Ireland.


Introduction: Breast cancer is the commonest cancer among Malaysian women. Current clinical practice guidelines (CPG) by the Ministry of Health, Malaysia comprise recommendations based on a risk stratification approach. Aim: This paper reviewed and reflected on the challenges and uncertainties that needed to be considered regarding the implementation and delivery of risk-stratified breast cancer screening in Malaysia. Methods: Our iterative writing, discussions and reflections revolved around the results of key relevant literature search from the Ministry of Health Malaysia website, PubMed, and Google Scholar, and on feedback from local clinical experts in the field of breast cancer screening practice. The articles related to risk-stratified breast cancer screening, genetic testing, screening guidelines for the Malaysia population, and articles published in English were included in this narrative review. Result: Further infrastructure and workforce capacity building is needed in order to achieve successful wider implementation e.g.; genetic counselling and testing services are limited in Malaysia. Furthermore, there is a need to elicit Malaysian women’s views and evaluate their acceptance of risk-stratified breast cancer screening. The primary healthcare setting is an obvious potential avenue to introduce and deliver initial risk assessment and stratification. However, the workload and willingness of Malaysian primary healthcare doctors to practice risk-stratified screening is yet to be explored to have a better understanding on their perspective. Conclusion and recommendation: Identifying a valid and appropriate risk model tailored to the population profile and needs of Malaysian women and conducting a pilot project of risk-stratified screening, guided by implementation science would provide lessons and insights for policymakers, health service managers, and public and primary health care professionals. The results of these activities would increase the likelihood that decisions and plans would lead to the successful implementation in Malaysia of a sustainable and effective breast cancer screening strategy that incorporates a patient-sensitive, risk-stratified approach.


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