Nearly 70,000 new cases reported over two years; breast cancer remains the biggest threat
Nearly 70,000 new cancer cases were diagnosed among Malaysians in Peninsular Malaysia between 2003 and 2005, according to a report released in early 2008 on the incidence of the disease in West Malaysia.
The Cancer Incidence in Peninsular Malaysia 2003-2005 report, published by the National Cancer Registry (NCR), states that the total 67,792 new cases were diagnosed among 29,596 males (43.7 per cent) and 38,196 females (56.3 per cent). The annual crude rate for males was 100.2 per cent per 100,000 population, and 132.1 per cent per 100,000 for females.
The most frequent cancer during this period in Malaysians was breast cancer (18 per cent) followed by large bowel cancer (11.9 per cent) and lung cancer (7.4 per cent).
A surprising finding was the high ranking of leukaemia among Malay males, though the fact was consistent with the Kelantan Cancer Registry Report 1999-2003, which found the cancer the third most frequent among all males, and second highest among Malay males. In contrast, in the Penang Cancer Registry of the same period, leukaemia featured eighth among males and females.
Yet another unexpected finding was that prostate cancer was the second most common cancer in Indian males. The cancer ranked fourth among male cancers in Malaysia. Interestingly, the age specific incidence rate in Chinese and Indians in Malaysia were higher than those in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mumbai. This finding for Malaysian Indian males “could be due to chance variation in a smaller sample compared to the other major ethnic groups,” said the report.
Among Malay males, large bowel cancer was the most common cancer followed by leukaemia, lung cancer, lymphoma and prostate cancer.
Large bowel cancer was also the leading cause of cancer in Chinese males, followed by cancers of the lung, nasopharynx, prostate and stomach. In Indian males, the most frequent cancers were large bowel, prostate, stomach, lung and lymphoma.
Breast cancer remains the most common cancer among women across all three ethnic groups. For Malay women, this is followed by large bowel, cervix uteri, leukaemia and ovarian cancers. Among Chinese females, it was large bowel cancer, cervix uteri, lung and stomach, while the incidence of cancer among the peninsula’s Indian females was followed by cancers of the cervix uteri, mouth, large bowel and corpus uteri.
The third NCR report describes the morbidity burden of cancer from January 1st 2003 to December 31st 2005. It is mainly a descriptive report of the data collected during the period alongside a detailed analysis of topography and morphology, interpretation and comparison of the data.
Between 2003 and 2005, the report states that the NCR received 42,963, 48,549 and 46,048 notifications respectively from various hospitals, laboratories and clinics, both public and private.
The NCR is a service supported by the Ministry of Health to collect information about cancer incidence in Malaysia. The information is vital in planning the evaluation of cancer services by the governmental agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), private providers and the industry.
The objectives of the NCR include determining the disease burden attributable to cancer by quantifying the magnitude of cancer morbidity and mortality, and its geographic and temporal trends in Malaysia, and evaluating cancer treatment, control and prevention programmes.