KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — Those diagnosed with lung, trachea and bronchus cancer have an average survival rate of only 11 per cent, the lowest among patients suffering various types of cancer.
This means close to nine out of 10 patients will succumb to the disease within five years of being diagnosed.
In its report called the Malaysian Study on Cancer Survival (MySCan), the Health Ministry said this was the most “worrying” cancer, compared to the other 14 prominent cancers in the country including female breast, liver and prostate.
The report added that the median survival time for lung, trachea and bronchus cancer patients is only 6.8 months.
The cancer, dubbed “rapidly fatal”, can only be curbed with preventive strategies rather than treatment, the report suggested.
“The great deal of policy and programmatic attention should be directed toward youth smoking prevention,” the report said.
This is in line with the Health Ministry’s continuous commitment to control the use of tobacco products and other smoking-related materials, including its recent proposal to gazette all eateries as smoke-free places beginning year-end.
During the World Cancer Congress 2018 last week, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad reportedly said that the ministry will strive to help tobacco users quit and prevent young ones from picking up the habit.
Meanwhile, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah explained that one-third of deaths from cancers are due to five leading behavioural and dietary risks — high body mass index, low fruits and vegetable intake, lack of physical activities, tobacco use and alcohol use.
“Tobacco use is the most common risk factor for cancers and is responsible for approximately 22 per cent of cancer deaths.
“The National Strategic Plan for Cancer Control Programme (NSPCCP) 2016-2020 was formulated to reduce the negative impact of cancer in Malaysia further.
“Availability of survival data from MySCan will undoubtedly contribute to evaluating the strategies that were implemented through the NSPCCP,” he said in the foreword of the report.
According to MySCan, out of 8,021 cases of lung, trachea and bronchus cancer between 2007 and 2011, only 514 patients made it out alive.
A total of 7,287 deaths were recorded while the other 220 cases were lost, either by error in a computer tracking system or by being unreachable, at the point of follow-up in the study.
According to the Tobacco Atlas by the American Cancer Society, every year more than 27,000 Malaysians are killed by tobacco-caused diseases.
The website, which gives statistics on the effects of tobacco on a country’s health, politics, and economics, also said that Malaysia’s tobacco product is still relatively affordable with only 47.06 per cent excise tax in final consumer price.
The benchmark set by the World Health Organisation is a minimum of 70 per cent excise tax in the final price.