Specialists tell govt to step up cancer care

Malaysian Oncological Society president Dr Matin Mellor Abdullah. (Ramsay Sime Darby Web pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: One-stop cancer treatment centres in Malaysia should be expanded throughout the country to facilitate treatment and strengthen the health tourism industry.

The Malaysian Oncological Society’s (MOS) president, Dr Matin Mellor Abdullah, said there are several one-stop centres in Malaysia offering comprehensive cancer treatments with excellent facilities, but only in major cities.

He added that location is an important aspect, as patients may need to go back and forth for up to 20 sessions.

“The one-stop centre offering screening, prevention, early diagnosis of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery can draw patients undergoing treatment, as the treatments do not rely on a single method and require different expertise.

“But at the moment, it is only available in major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru. To bring changes to cancer treatment, centres with the same facilities should be offered more widely, covering the east coast states, Sabah and Sarawak,” he told Bernama at the World Cancer Congress 2018, here, a four-day event ending tomorrow.

“Among the factors seen as a barrier to extending the centres is, of course, a lack of experts. The ratio of oncologists who treat cancer patients is now estimated at 1: 3,” he said.

Meanwhile, a clinical oncologist at Sunway Medical Centre, Christina Lai, said Malaysia has the potential to be the best health tourism location due to the availability of world-class, high-tech machines, especially for radiotherapy treatments.

“Furthermore, we also have access to the latest medical drugs that are not available in other countries, especially in Southeast Asia,” she said.

She added that besides being well-known for its services, cancer treatments in Malaysia are also offered at reasonable prices, making it a prime choice for vacations as well as a healthcare destination.