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Facts About Breast Cancer In Malaysia And How To Prevent It

21 Jun 2023
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Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among Malaysian women. Due to its prevalence, it’s important to understand how breast cancer affects Malaysians in terms of its key risk factors such as lifestyle and age as well as how we can detect and prevent breast cancer to avoid being part of the statistics. As a woman, understanding this may mean the difference in preventing it. As a man, being informed for the sake of others is also important! Although with a much lower chance, men still have a risk of getting breast cancer.

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Prevalence and survival rate stats

a) 1 in 19 of Malaysian women are at risk of breast cancer.
b) 8,418 new breast cancer cases were reported in Malaysia in 2020.
c) According to the Malaysian Study on Cancer Survival in 2018, only seven out of 10 Malaysian breast cancer patients survive at least five years. The survival rate in Malaysia is low compared to other countries at 66.8%.

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Lifestyle risk factors

Here are some of the key lifestyle factors in reducing breast cancer risk.

a)    Being physically active

b)    Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight

c)    Avoiding alcohol and smoking

Unfortunately, when it comes to some of the lifestyle factors that decrease breast cancer risk, Malaysia is still behind. Malaysia is one of the least physically active countries in the world and the most obese country in Southeast Asia. To avoid being part of these statistics, check out our tips on how to exercise amidst a busy lifestyle and how to lose weight fast and safely.

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Almost up to 50% of women diagnosed with breast cancer were reported to be under the age of 50. Although incidence is lower for age 40 and below, studies have shown that prognosis tends to be worse. The same is also true for those aged 60 years or more. Breast cancer is an issue that can affect anyone, regardless of age.

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The importance of early detection

The earlier the detection and diagnosis of breast cancer, as with other cancers, the better the chances are for a successful treatment. It is unfortunate that in Malaysia, almost 50% of breast cancer cases are detected at a late stage.

This is why women should do the recommended screenings for breast cancer. The National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) recommends that women aged 40 or more get mammograms regularly, even if you do not feel like there might be anything wrong. Under 40, you should seek your doctor’s advice on whether you should get a mammogram done. Even then, age is not the only factor that would affect breast cancer risk. There are also other factors such as family history or the incidence of late menopause.

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Prevent it!

In addition to leading a healthy lifestyle and having regular screening as mentioned above, there are also other ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer and hopefully prevent it.

These include genetic counseling and testing for breast cancer risk, close observation from yourself to look for the early signs, and breastfeeding. As many as 50 to 70% of breast cancers can be prevented depending on when people adopt risk-reducing behaviors and lifestyle changes.

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How critical illness insurance can help

There is currently no cure for breast cancer nor can it be completely prevented. This is why critical illness insurance is crucial in the event of breast cancer diagnosis, as well as for other critical illnesses. It provides the financial protection you need when it comes to costly and long-term treatments to make breast cancer treatment a successful one. With GoXtra Care, get covered for up to 150 critical illness conditions including cancer and receive up to 350% of the coverage amount upon diagnosis.