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LETTER | Don't be afraid to seek urgent cancer care during Covid-19 pandemic

LETTER | According to the Malaysia National Cancer Registry Report (2012-2016), about 63.7 percent of patients were already in their advanced cancer stage (stage III and IV) at the time of their diagnosis. Detecting cancer early can drastically improve survival and quality of life. This in turn will significantly reduce the cost and complexity of cancer treatment.

When cancer is detected at an early stage, the chance of survival beyond five years is higher, otherwise, the survival rate will deteriorate. A delayed diagnosis could lead to a worse prognosis and even a higher risk of death. 

Comparing the risks of death within five years of cancer staging in stage 4 with stage 1, there are 7.5 times higher risks of death among female breast cancer patients, 5.5 times in cervical cancer and 3.9 times in colorectal cancer. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has left many people unsure of how and when to seek medical help. The issue of undiagnosed cancer is emerging during this pandemic. The number of people being diagnosed late with cancer has increased during this time, which have worried healthcare professionals that these patients will only be treated when it is too late. 

Now many of us might ask, “I have the signs, but what should I do?”, “Is it safe for me to go to the hospital?”, “Will I be attended to and treated?” 

Many people are likely to be nervous about visiting healthcare settings during this pandemic. Be assured that hospitals are following strict infection control rules to help minimise the threat of Covid-19. 

World Cancer Day this year aims to inspire and encourage action from individuals to access early detection, screening, and diagnosis of cancer. 

Early detection of cancer can yield a better prognosis and improve disease survival. Be courageous to step forward for screening, for you can make a change for the better!

Signed by:

Dr Nithiya Sinarajoo

Dr Yoong Lee Yeen

Professor Dr Moy Foong Ming

Professor Dr Noran Naqiah Hairi

The writers are healthcare professionals from the Public Health Department, Universiti Malaya Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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