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Early Cancer Detection, Early Cancer Protection

Contributed by: Dr Danny Tan, Partner Doctor

"The good-news stories in medicine are early detection, early intervention." said Thomas R. Insel, the famous neuroscientist and psychiatrist.

It is found that the later cancer is detected in person, the lower their survival rates are, according to Malaysian Study on Cancer Survival published in October 2018. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world and in Malaysia, as of 2018. It contributes to 9.6 million deaths worldwide and 16,000 deaths in Malaysia. Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah urged the importance of efforts to increase public awareness and access to early detection and treatment of cancer.

What is cancer screening? It is a way in our doctors will check you for some types of cancers before you have any symptoms. Screening also involves looking for area that can turn into cancer, or 'pre-cancer'. The goal of cancer screening is to detect as early as possible, so that you can get treatment and have the best possible outcome. Different tests can be used to screen for different types of cancers. The age of screenings start depends on the type of cancer being screened for. That's because different nature of cancers tend to strike at different times.

So, why should I have cancer screening tests? Cancer that is found early is often in early stages and smaller in size, most of the time can be cured or treated easily. Treating certain cancers early can help people to live longer. Sometimes, screening is able to find cells that do not yet show cancer but might turn into cancer cells. Our doctors will often treat this pre-cancer before it has a chance to turn into cancer.

Does everyone have the same cancer screening? Definitely not. Not everyone is screened for the same types of cancer, and not everyone begins cancer screening at the same age. For example, people with family history of certain cancer might begin screening at a younger age than people without a family history. People might have repeat screening tests at different times, too. Our doctors will advise on which cancers should you be screened for, choices to make about which screening test to have, at what age should begin cancer screening, and how often you should get screened, etc.

Does an abnormal screening test result means that one have cancer? Answer to that is not always true. An abnormal screening test results means that you might have cancer or pre-cancer. However, it does not mean that you definitely have cancer. If you have an abnormal result, our doctor will probably need to do other tests to find out for sure if anything is wrong. Don’t worry about having cancer until you have followed up with a doctor.

What types of cancers can people be screened for? Some of the types of cancer for which screening tests are available are breast cancer, colon cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and ovarian cancer.

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Dr Danny Tan

Partner Doctor

Carepool Asia

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