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Never-smokers still at risk

By SRIMAYEE SEN SARMA it can be attributed to more than one factor, According to Dr Ng, lung cancer can be cancer, the good news is that such patients
including environmental, occupational or generally divided into two groups – small respond better to chemotherapy than
LUNG cancer is a diagnosis that most people genetic. cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell smokers according to a 2006 study titled
dread, and there is valid reason for this fear. In an article published in Science Blog of lung cancer (NSCLC). NSCLC is further Smoking affects treatment outcome in
According to World Health Organization Cancer Research UK titled Science Surgery: divided into three types – adenocarcinoma, patients with advanced nonsmall cell lung
(WHO), cancer accounted for 9.6 million ‘Why do never-smokers get lung cancer?’, Dr squamous cell carcinoma and large cell cancer, published in Cancer.
deaths worldwide last year, 1.76 million of Mariam Jamal-Hanjani, oncologist and carcinoma. Dr Ng has a similar opinion, saying, “A
which were caused by lung cancer. clinical researcher specialising in lung cancer SCLC is the more aggressive kind of lung healthy lifestyle before the diagnosis of
Datin Paduka Prof Dr Teo Soo Hwang, at University College London, mentions that cancer and is thankfully less common and lung cancer is one of the deciding factors of
chief executive of Cancer Research Malaysia non-smokers who develop lung cancer are almost rare in non-smokers. Other less how well someone will respond to
and cancer researcher/geneticist, says, more likely to have cells with a gene common types of lung cancer are lung treatment.”
“Eighty-six per cent to 92% of male lung abnormality called EGFR. carcinoid and pulmonary lymphoma. While She names a patient, Sim Siew Bee, as an
cancer patients and 60% to 70% of female “If you have never smoked, you are more smokers can develop all kinds of lung example. Sim, who was diagnosed with
lung cancer patients are smokers, suggesting likely to develop lung cancer that is driven by cancers, non-smokers are more prone to stage four lung cancer that had
that smoking is still the most significant risk a fault in one or more genes. These are not developing adenocarcinoma. metastasised to her throat and brain in May
factor for lung cancer in Malaysia. necessarily genetic faults that you are born Till now, lung cancer in smokers and non- last year, responded so well to treatment
“Lung cancer is the second most common with, they may be faults that develop during smokers have been treated in a similar that she is already in remission.
type of cancer among Malaysian men, fifth the lifetime,” wrote Dr Mariam. manner. However, this may change with Dr Ng attributes Sim’s fast recovery to
most common among Malaysian women, and Environmental and occupational factors, new research bringing to light more her excellent health before her diagnosis.
third most common overall. One in 10 cancer on the other hand, include exposure to radon, differences in the characteristics of lung She says, “Sim led a healthy lifestyle. This
patients is diagnosed with lung cancer, and passive smoking, aerosolised oils caused by cancer in smokers and non-smokers. helped her respond to the treatment better
smokers across all ethnicities, genders and wok cooking, and asbestos exposure. The than people who have health issues prior to
age groups are more likely to get lung article also elaborated that there is a marked diagnosis.”
cancer.” difference in the kind of lung cancer common Lifestyle matters
While it is true that smoking is one of the in smokers and non-smokers. Even though never-smokers can get lung > TURN TO PAGE 2
biggest risk factors for lung cancer, non-
smokers can be in danger, too.
According to a 2009 article titled Lung Surviving against adversity
cancer in never smokers: Clinical epidemiology
and environmental risk factors published in Sim Siew Bee (pic) is a 55-year-old drank alcohol. frequency has reduced significantly now
Clinical Cancer Research, never-smokers homemaker who assists her husband in “However, I got past that initial shock that I am in remission. I am mostly on
account for approximately 10% to 15% of his business. She was diagnosed with and, instead of concentrating on the drugs now. Many people often have the
lung cancer cases in the United States. stage four lung cancer last year but is now disease, I decided to focus on healing. misconception that cancer treatments are
Even though there is no data-based in remission. As a lung cancer survivor, I got all the support from my excruciatingly painful, but I did not feel
evidence on the number of lung cancer cases she attributes her win against the disease family and friends, which any pain during my chemotherapy or
in never-smokers in Malaysia, Dr Christina to her good health prior to getting helped me stay positive in my radiotherapy.”
Ng Van Tze, consultant medical oncologist diagnosed, as well as her positivity. fight against cancer. She has been extremely positive
and the president and founder of She narrates her journey from diagnosis “I am also fortunate to throughout her journey as a lung
Empowered – a non-governmental to remission. have been able to continue cancer patient and says that her
organisation that focuses on aiding the “I did not have typical symptoms of with my normal life because positivity has been one of her
underprivileged section of the society in lung cancer such as coughing. For a even with stage four greatest strengths against lung
Malaysia with cancer treatment – says, “The couple of days before getting diagnosed, I metastasised lung cancer, I cancer.
number of non-smokers developing lung just felt tired and short of breath while never went through much She advises all cancer patients to
cancer is growing and becoming a concern. It performing simple household tasks. pain. I was active during my focus on living as normal a life as
is estimated that around 15% to 20% of men “When I went for a check-up, I was treatment sessions as possible instead of dwelling on the
and about half the women diagnosed with diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, well. disease. She also advocates
lung cancer never smoked.” which had metastasised to other parts of “I had to go the importance of leading
So then, what causes lung cancer in never- my body including my throat and brain. through both a healthy lifestyle since
smokers? “My first reaction was shock because I chemotherapy and she believes that it was
led a healthy lifestyle and still do. I radiotherapy another reason she
exercise, eat home-cooked food, avoid sessions and still responded so well to
Finding answers fast food and have never smoked or do, but the treatment.
When a non-smoker develops lung cancer,

Harness the benefits of turmeric to fight disease

SPICES are old. They have been valued for nuclear factor (NF)-KB and NF-KB-regulated
their ability to bring other worlds and gene products and induces death receptors
cultures to our tables and make food leading to suppressed proliferation, induced
delicious, interesting and beautiful. chemosensitization, and suppressed Modern lifestyle habits such
Besides that, every sprinkle of spice may
add a little health bonus. Some spices have
osteoclastogenesis published in Molecular
Nutrition & Food Research indicates that as the drastic increase in
antioxidant and anti-inflammatory turmeric inhibits certain inflammatory additives and preservatives in
properties, especially turmeric, which
has been used for thousands of years
products and induces death receptors
(a protein that may kill cancer cells food, stress and lack of sleep
both as a spice and herbal medicine. when bound to another protein or rest may be responsible
Extensive research for the past 50
years on turmeric has shown that it
called TRAIL), leading to reduced
cancer cell growth and higher
for inflammation and
can be beneficial for health. chemosensitivity. disturbances in inflammation
Modern lifestyle habits such
as the drastic increase in
Many clinical (human) research
studies use high daily doses of
resolution in the body.
additives and preservatives in curcumin to test its effects on
food, stress and lack of sleep or different ailments and bodily
rest may be responsible for functions. This is because curcumin provide more curcumin than 100 teaspoons
inflammation and disturbances in absorption by the body is poor, so much of turmeric powder. Theracurmin is a well-
inflammation resolution in the body, higher doses are necessary. With new researched curcumin powder that may be
suggests a 2012 study titled Chronic technology and innovation, however, poor beneficial for heart, brain, muscle and joint
inflammatory diseases are stimulated by absorption of curcumin is in the past. health.
current lifestyle: how diet, stress levels and accompanied by symptoms such as pain, A curcumin formulation called
medication prevent our body from swelling or redness, which subside within a Theracurmin, which is produced via This article is brought to you by Cambert
recovering published in Nutrition & couple of days after the body recovers. ultrafine granulation and suspension (M) Sdn Bhd.
Metabolism. A compound in turmeric called curcumin technology, can be rapidly absorbed within
Inflammation resolution is the body’s is widely researched for its healing one hour and retained for as long as 24 n For more information, call 03-5638 3660
defence mechanism that helps protect the properties. A 2011 study titled Turmeric hours in the body. (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or email
body from infection and injury. It can be (Curcuma longa) inhibits inflammatory A low dose (600mg) of Theracurmin can
2 Cancer Awareness SUNDAY STAR, 3 FEBRUARY 2019

Giving back to the community

ORAL cancer, also known as mouth cancer,
is the sixth most common cancer in the
world. According to the United Kingdom’s
National Health Service (NHS),
approximately 6,800 people are diagnosed
with mouth cancer in the UK every year.
This equates to almost 2% of the total
number of cancers diagnosed worldwide.
Oral cancer is a condition where a tumour
begins to develop in the lining of the mouth.
The tumour can be anywhere in the mouth,
such as the surface of the tongue, inner
cheeks, roof of the mouth, lips or gums.
NHS states that oral cancer commonly
affects older adults in the age range of 50 to
74. Only an eighth of oral cancer cases
involve people aged below 50. It is also more Dr Michaela Goodson.
prevalent in men than women. This may be
due to the higher alcohol consumption rate Malaysia. One of the key focus areas is to
among men in general. encourage students to undertake research
The symptoms of oral cancer may projects that not only help to enhance their
resemble ordinary mouth infections, which knowledge, but also have a direct and
is why mouth infections should not be taken positive impact on the local community,”
lightly. Common symptoms may include says Dr Michaela Goodson, dean of research
mouth ulcers that persist for several weeks, NUMed emphasises increasing the local community's awareness of oral cancer. at NUMed.
unexplained and persistent lumps in the “A dedicated research laboratory is being
mouth or neck, looseness of teeth or sockets melanocytes, and lymphoma, a type of different stages of growth while decreasing opened on the campus, which will allow
that remain unhealed after extractions, cancer that grows in the lymph glands and the chances of drug resistance. Lastly, students and faculty members to undertake
persistent numbness or an odd feeling on can sometimes develop in the mouth. targeted drug therapy is a specific treatment laboratory-based research projects on
the lip or tongue, changes in speech where Treatments for oral cancer are broadly that aims to interfere with cell growth on a molecular mechanisms and determinants of
none had been apparent such as lisps, and similar to treatments for other common molecular level. Under certain conditions, disease in Malaysia,” she adds.
white or red patches on the lining of the cancers. These include surgery, radiation this treatment may be combined with Located in Johor, NUMed is the
mouth or tongue. therapy, chemotherapy and targeted drug chemotherapy and radiation therapy. international campus of Newcastle
The type of oral cancer an individual has therapy. Oral surgery aims to completely Over time, a sizeable body of research University. With a solid foundation in
can be identified based on the type of cell remove the tumour from the mouth. has been accumulated to improve the research excellence, the university is
where the cancer starts. Squamous cell Radiation therapies, such as external beam treatments of oral cancer. Newcastle dedicated to not only seeking advancements
carcinoma is the most common type of oral radiation therapy and brachytherapy, are University, a world-class medical school in in oral cancer treatments but also promoting
cancer and occurs in nine out of 10 cases. carried out to treat cancerous tissues of the the UK renowned for its research excellence, awareness of the disease among the local
Other, less common types include mouth through selected radiation has made remarkable contributions towards community.
adenocarcinoma, which develops in the technology. oral cancer research.
salivary glands, sarcoma, which refers to Chemotherapy is another common “Newcastle University is ranked among n For more information, call 07-555 3800,
abnormal growth in bones, cartilage, technique and seeks to destroy cancer cells the top in the world for research. We are WhatsApp 011-1231 5411/012-784 9456,
muscles and other tissues, oral malignant in the body using anticancer drugs. These bringing that capability to our Newcastle email or
melanoma, a cancer that starts in are combined to attack cancer cells at University Medicine (NUMed) campus in visit

Controlling what we can

> FROM PAGE 1 increasing the coverage of smoking bans in
public places,” she adds.
Malaysians beware Nevertheless, the fact remains that
nothing will work unless there is awareness
Prof Teo raises concern that most new among people and they consciously choose
treatment costs for cancer far exceed the what is best for themselves as well as
average income of many individuals living others. While quitting smoking is the first
even in high-income countries, and the same step towards reducing the high incidence
could be said of Malaysia as cancer rate of lung cancer worldwide, the next step
treatment is not affordable to most people would be understanding and avoiding
here, even to those who are insured or live environmental hazards.
on an upper-middle income. Being diagnosed with lung cancer caused
“However, the Government is doing all the by genetic factors is not in our hands, but
right things to reduce the burden of lung we can at least work on reducing
cancer on the Malaysian public by increasing modifiable external risk factors such as
tobacco tax, tightening regulations for lifestyle and the environments we choose to
tobacco advertisement and promotion, and expose ourselves to.

Staying strong and supportive

Sim Siew Bee’s husband, Tan Wan positive person who took the disease
Chuan (pic), talks about what it was like head on and triumphed. People ask me
to have a loved one diagnosed with stage how I took care of her, but the truth is
four lung cancer. that I never had to since she is still taking
“I was in shock and denial when I care of me, the household and our
found out that my wife had stage four business exactly as she used to before
cancer that had metastasised to her getting diagnosed and did all through her
throat and brain. I was scared that she treatment as well.
would not make it, and expected it to be “It may seem like an exaggeration, but
a difficult journey. she still outruns me when we go jogging
“However, she surprised us and in the morning, even when she is
proved us all wrong, emerging a strong, undergoing chemotherapy and
According to him, it is her strength that
helped him combat his negativity about
the disease and not the other way
around. Since he experienced it at first
hand, he agrees with Sim that positivity
and a healthy lifestyle can have a good
impact on the success of cancer
He suggests that family members and
friends of a cancer patient provide
support to ensure the patient leads a
normal life that focuses on the healing
process, not the disease.
4 Cancer Awareness SUNDAY STAR, 3 FEBRUARY 2019

Preparing for the unexpected

THESE are trying times. Because of
the high inflation rate and slowing
economy, many Malaysians have to
work tirelessly to make ends meet
every month. However, even if one
earns a comfortable salary, one’s
world can still be turned
completely upside down if he or
she were ever to hear the words
“You have cancer”.
When a person, particularly the
main breadwinner of the family, is
diagnosed with cancer, that family
is very likely to lose a stable source
of income and may have to scrape
by on their savings.
Unfortunately, escalating
medical fees for cancer treatment
adds on to this financial burden,
which can further cripple and
devastate a family’s financial
According to the article Cancer
and financial catastrophe,
published by University of Malaya
in 2017, Assoc Prof Nirmala Bhoo
Pathy suggests that half of
Malaysians face financial
catastrophe within the first year of
a cancer diagnosis, with lower- and
middle-income families being more
adversely affected.
This finding rings particularly
true when Cancer Cure Malaysia
presented the general costs as of
2017 for the treatment of common
cancers in Malaysia.
l Breast cancer – Up to
l Colon cancer – Up to PRUCancer X provides peace of mind to the cancer patient and his family by providing a lump sum payout to support their finances.
l Lung cancer – Up to RM56,000 Eric Wong, chief customer and home care, health supplements
l Nasopharyngeal cancer – Up marketing officer of Prudential and alternative treatments,” Wong
to 70,000 Assurance Malaysia Berhad adds.
l Cervical cancer – Up to (Prudential) says that there has With the recent launch of its People have the
RM60,000 been growing awareness among
the public on the necessity of
PRUCancer X protection plan,
Prudential hopes to provide a tendency to purchase
These numbers do not account having a cancer protection plan. holistic and comprehensive cancer health insurance
for other related costs such as loss
of income, hiring a professional
“More people are purchasing
health insurance because they can
protection plan to ensure that
Malaysians are financially because they can now
caretaker or domestic help, as well now see how it relates to their prepared and protected in the see how it relates
as follow-up, alternative and
overseas treatments.
daily lives. Medical insurance,
hospital admission and outpatient
event of a cancer diagnosis.
Through considerable research
to their daily lives.
Therefore, wouldn’t it be nice to treatment are all real-life needs.” and its own efforts at data Medical insurance,
have a safety net to give you peace
of mind should you find yourself in
Nevertheless, because of high
medical fees, the coverage
collection, Prudential has identified
the needs of its consumers and
hospital admission
turbulent times like these? provided by these plans are rarely come out with targeted solutions and outpatient
enough to cover cancer treatment that solidly addresses their pain treatment are all
Making informed as well as other miscellaneous
l High cost of cancer real-life needs.
decisions “Thus, in line with Prudential’s treatment – Taking into
mission to provide financial consideration the types of cancer Eric Wong.
In response to these issues, freedom to all Malaysians, we have treatment and recovery period of a
financial protection plans have introduced a cancer protection patient, PRUCancer X offers provide a lump sum and 26.7% in private hospitals.
stepped up to help ease the plan that does not just cover benefits of up to RM2mil to ensure compassionate benefit to assist There is a higher chance for
financial burden of cancer on cancer treatment expenses, but the patient can be presented with the family with funeral expenses anyone to be diagnosed with
patients. In the case of a person also the potential income loss if the best possible treatment option, in addition to livelihood support cancer, and most people have
being diagnosed with cancer, some one has to stop work to focus on in addition to adequate recovery until they can get back on their families to support and other
financial relief is given depending the recovery, as well as other assistance and care. feet. responsibilities to manage.
on the insurance package bought. additional costs such as specialised l Affordable insurance – l Enrolment process – Therefore, there is no time to be
Prudential recognises that some Enrolling in an insurance plan complacent when dealing with
people do not have the budget to may be complex, but PRUCancer X the repercussions of cancer. Take
prioritise cancer protection, has stripped its application control and learn how insurance
especially young working adults. process of unnecessary questions, plans work to support you and
However, it also understands that instead focussing entirely on your loved ones in the face of
cancer is a disease that does not cancer risks questions only. cancer. Make informed decisions
discriminate. so you can keep yourself and your
Therefore, PRUCancer X is very
affordable, with premiums from as
Giving people control loved ones safe physically,
mentally and financially in the
low as RM34 per month to ensure Looking at the array of costs worst-case scenario.
it can deliver peace of mind needed to fund a cancer patient’s All in all, Prudential hopes to
without burning their consumer’s recovery, it is crucial for a cancer continue servicing the public by
pockets. patient to have a comprehensive providing them financial freedom
l Early diagnosis – In cases cancer protection plan that takes and peace of mind even during
where a patient is diagnosed with into account the extra costs that their most challenging periods.
specific types of cancer in the early can follow a successful cancer Wong says, “We listen to the
stages, PRUCancer X pays out 10% treatment. market and try to allay its
of the coverage for the patient to According to statistics published concerns with actions such as
receive treatment. The remaining by World Health Organization, addressing the affordability of our
coverage will be paid out in the one out of four people will be insurance packages and ease of
unfortunate case of a recurrence diagnosed with cancer by the age enrolment. Therefore, I hope that
or if the cancer has spread to its of 75. The Malaysian Study on people will be able to recognise
later stages. Cancer Survival 2018 also brands the importance of getting a cancer
l Family financials – Prudential cancer as the fourth most protection plan.”
also takes note of the possibility of common cause of death in
Having a backup plan when cancer strikes can affect your treatment and a patient succumbing to the cancer. Malaysia, with 12.6% incidences n For more information, visit
recovery experience. In the event of death, the plan will of death in government hospitals
6 Cancer Awareness SUNDAY STAR, 3 FEBRUARY 2019

Say yes to life

ALTHOUGH non-smokers are also at risk of
getting lung cancer, smokers are by far the
most at risk. According to the Lung Cancer
Fact Sheet published by the American Lung The percentage risk of
Association, 80% and 90% of lung cancer
deaths in women and men respectively are
impact on actual exposure
attributable to smoking. to second-hand smoke
The fact sheet also states that in terms of
risk, male smokers are 23 times more likely
is clear. Non-smokers
and female smokers are 13 times more have a 20% to 30% greater
likely to develop lung cancer, compared
with people who never smoke.
chance of developing lung
Additionally, active smoking is cancer if they are exposed
responsible for close to 90% of lung cancer
cases. Radon exposure accounts for 10% of
to passive smoking, at
all patients, occupational exposure to home or work.
carcinogens (9% to 15%) and outdoor air
pollution (1% to 2%). Because of the
interactions between exposures, the exposure to second-hand smoke is clear.
combined attributable risk for lung cancer Non-smokers have a 20% to 30% greater
can exceed 100%. chance of developing lung cancer if they are
According to Dr Murallitharan Munisamy, exposed to passive smoking, at home or
medical director of National Cancer Society work.”
of Malaysia, occupational exposure, The good news is that Dr Murallitharan
including to asbestos, uranium and coke (an believes awareness of smoking and lung
important fuel in the manufacture of iron in cancer correlation is high among
smelters, blast furnaces and foundries) is Malaysians. Quit smoking to
almost non-existent in Malaysia. So is “However, there is still a lack of self- reduce the risk
exposure to radon. motivation for smokers to quit, as many of lung cancer.
“As is evident from the statistics, the risk perceive that they can quit before they get
attributable to smoking is so great that it cancer. This is a particular area of specific
outweighs all other factors. self-awareness that needs to be improved.”
“In some countries, air pollution is high, To help addicts stop smoking, Dr l Stay away – Stay as far as you can from meditate/silently contemplate.
which might increase the risk of getting Murallitharan provides useful tips in the those who smoke l Pray – Say a quiet prayer wherever
lung cancer, but even that is only by a few form of the 12M method. l Avoid – Avoid places in which people you are.
percentage points. Hence, giving up When you crave a cigarette, do the smoke.
smoking is the largest risk-reduction following. l Chew – Chew gum or any kind of fruit Although the Government is taking a
strategy for lung cancer.” l Wait – Wait 5 minutes. Tell yourself “I to keep your mouth moving. step in the right direction by banning
He says that smokers not only harm will wait”. l Wash – Wash your hands frequently. public smoking, the onus of doing what is
themselves, but others too, including people l Breathe – Take deep breaths. l Bathe – Take frequent baths. good for ourselves lies on us. If you want
who are within their immediate vicinity l Drink – Drink a glass of warm water l Stretch – Every now and then, do some to quit smoking but did not find the above
when they smoke. slowly. muscle stretches. tips useful, you can always consider
“The percentage risk of impact on actual l Busy – Keep yourself busy. l Meditate – Take a few minutes to seeking professional help.
SUNDAY STAR, 3 FEBRUARY 2019 Cancer Awareness 7

Clearing Probiotics for bowel movement

A QUOTE from father of modern plant-based, fibre-rich diet, movement frequency, according to a

the air on
medicine Hipprocrates, “all disease exercising regularly and ensuring 2015 study titled Effect of the
begins in the gut,” still holds true regular bowel movement. probiotic strain Bifidobacterium
today. Diets low in fibre but high in Biogrow ProGut is made from animalis subsp. lactis, BB-12®, on
red meat, colon inflammation natural Swedish oat fibre formulated defecation frequency in healthy
triggered by bacterial infection, with dual action from the well- subjects with low defecation frequency

lung cancer
physical inactivity, alcohol abuse researched Oat BG22 fibre powder and abdominal discomfort: a
and chronic laxative use are and Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 randomised, double-blind, placebo-
common causes of poor gut health. probiotic strain from Denmark – a controlled, parallel-group trial
Irregular bowel movement or strain of Bifidobacterium with more published in British Journal of
constipation affects nearly a than 300 scientific publications and Nutrition.
quarter of the world population, over 130 clinical studies carried out Biogrow ProGut is available at all
according to Epidemiology of on it. pharmacies nationwide.
constipation in North America: a One sachet daily provides a
systematic review, a 2004 study synergistic effect for improved This article is brought to you by
LACK of awareness has caused published in The American Journal intestinal function and balanced gut Legosan (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.
many misconceptions about of Gastroenterology. microbiota. To consume, mix one
lung cancer. These myths can Besides that, a 2012 study titled sachet (≈7g) with cold water, fruit n For more information, call 03-7956
lead to people not getting It is not easy to Bifidobacteria for Life Betterment juice, cereal or yoghurt. One to two 2220 (9am to 5pm) or email info@
diagnosed in time or neglecting
treatment post diagnosis.
detect lung cancer. published in World Applied Sciences
Journal shows that people with
sachets a day after meals or
whenever convenient is

It is thus imperative to discern It could be a long constipation have lower levels of recommended.
myth from fact. Listed below are
a few such false perceptions that
time before any Bifidobacteria in the large intestine.
The levels of these good bacteria
Each sachet contains
2.4g soluble and
many people have about this symptoms appear. decrease with age. insoluble fibres with
disease, along with the facts. It is also easy In addition, a study titled How
many cancer cases and deaths are
one billion colony-
forming units (CFUs) of
Myth Lung cancer cannot be to mistake the potentially preventable? Estimates live probiotic cultures.
1 prevented symptoms of lung for Australia in 2013 published in The dose of one
International Journal of Cancer billion CFUs of BB-12
TRUTH While it is partially true cancer with other suggests that almost 40% of deaths has been clinically
lung cancer cannot entirely be respiratory caused by cancer, including colon tested and shown to
prevented, staying away from
smoking and other problems. cancer, are preventable with
lifestyle changes such as adopting a
have benefits on
defaecation and bowel
environmental risk factors such
as exposure to radon, asbestos
and aerosolised oil can available, including surgery,
significantly reduce the chemotherapy, radiotherapy and
possibility of getting the disease. targeted therapy. These
treatments are often used in
Myth It is a disease combination to remove
2 of men cancerous cells, prevent relapses
and increase patients’ life
TRUTH Although it is true that expectancy.
lung cancer is the top cancer Side effects are part of the
affecting the male population, a treatment process and can
high number of women get it, include nausea, vomiting, hair
too. It is, in fact, the third most loss and fatigue. However, these
common cancer in women after side effects are nothing
breast and colorectal cancer. compared to the outcome of not
getting treatment for cancer,
Myth I am too young to which can lead to great pain,
3 get lung cancer suffering and eventual death.

TRUTH This is one disease that Myth Being diagnosed with

can affect people of any age. The 6 lung cancer is equal to a
fact is there are a huge number death sentence
of young lung cancer survivors
as well as people who are living TRUTH The survival rate of lung
with it worldwide. Even if you cancer is certainly not as high as
do not smoke, you may live in a researchers and doctors would
polluted area or be genetically like to see. One reason for this
at risk. may be the absence of symptoms
in the initial stages, which
Myth I don’t have any causes late diagnosis when the
4 symptoms, which means disease is already beyond the
I am healthy curable stage.
However, even if it is beyond
TRUTH It is not easy to detect the curable stage, it is still
lung cancer. It could be a long treatable. With the latest cancer
time before any symptoms therapies and medications, lung
appear. It is also easy to mistake cancer at every stage can be
the symptoms of lung cancer effectively treated, increasing
with other respiratory problems. the life expectancy of the patient
Approximately 25% of people and reducing symptoms
with lung cancer display no significantly.
symptoms and are only
diagnosed when they undergo a Learn about lung cancer and
routine X-ray or CT scan. help spread awareness about it.
Someone with lung cancer who
Myth Cancer treatment kills is refusing treatment and
5 off good cells along with believes that she will die anyway
cancerous ones or someone who believes herself
to be healthy since she does not
TRUTH There are different have any symptoms may benefit
kinds of cancer treatments from your initiative.
8 Cancer Awareness SUNDAY STAR, 3 FEBRUARY 2019

Take a deep breath

WHILE lung cancer shares the
stage with colon cancer as the most
common form of cancer in men,
lung cancer has a higher mortality
rate because it is often detected
too late, says Dr Anand
Sachithanandan, consultant
cardiothoracic surgeon at Subang
Jaya Medical Centre.
“In Malaysia, at initial
presentation and diagnosis of lung These results tell us
cancer, only 3% of people are in
stage one and 7% in stage two. The that awareness on
remaining 90% of lung cancer lung cancer in Malaysia
patients were diagnosed in either
stages three or four.”
is still quite low. We
He adds, “According to the need to help the
Malaysian Study on Cancer Survival
2018, the five-year relative survival
public be more aware
rate for lung cancer across all of the disease, so they
stages is 11%. Hence, lung cancer is
the worst performing of all
are better informed
cancers, and the median time of to self-refer early to
survival after being diagnosed is
only 6.8 months.”
medical professionals
should they feel
Spreading the word something is wrong.
“From the results of several local
surveys, it was noted that around Dr Anand Sachithanandan.
90% of people know that smoking
causes lung cancer, which is good.
However, 50% to 60% of themselves. Our role is not to judge
participants mistakenly think only but to treat these people. While we
men get lung cancer, and about can advise them against smoking,
70% think that lung cancer is a this is not the right time to chastise
communicable disease,” says Dr them for smoking.”
Anand. Dr Anand adds that people have
“These results tell us that to realise that lung cancer is
awareness on lung cancer in multifactorial and an increasing
Malaysia is still quite low. We need number of non-smokers and
to help the public be more aware women are getting lung cancer.
of the disease, so they are better Some factors include:
informed to self-refer earlier on to After surgery, follow-up Dr Anand also provides some l Cooking with a wok –
medical professionals should they screenings are done for a advice to reduce the risks of lung Cooking fumes at high
feel something is wrong.” minimum of five years to ensure cancer, as listed below. temperatures in a confined space
For primary care doctors, Dr total eradication of the cancer from l Non-smokers should know may contribute to lung cancer.
Anand has some advice, “Signs and the body. Multimodality in that they have the right to inhale l Second-hand smoke – Long-
symptoms of lung cancer are non- treatment is practised, as some smoke-free fresh air. term exposure to second-hand
specific, such as coughing, losing patients require further treatment l Make a sincere and concerted smoke inadvertently makes people
weight, chest pains or shortness of before or after surgery such as effort to quit smoking. Better still, passive smokers.
breath, and most symptoms are chemotherapy and radiotherapy to don’t start smoking in the first l Third-hand smoke – Cigarette
not apparent in the early stages. ensure complete tumour clearance place. residue on furniture and
“These doctors see many patients and minimise the chances of l Eat in moderation and surroundings may also cause lung
with various ailments daily, hence recurrence. exercise regularly. cancer.
some may overlook the differential Patients with later stages of lung l Go for health screenings.
diagnosis of lung cancer and cancer will usually be treated with He continues, “Different people
provide patients with ‘normal’ palliative or symptomatic intent, However, he recognises that have different triggers or
treatments such as cough mixture where treatment focuses on prevention itself is not enough as thresholds towards the
or antibiotics. Doctors need to be controlling the tumour. Rarely is there is still a problem with stigma development of lung cancer. Some
more aware and think more about surgery performed to relieve the and misconceptions relating to are genetic, while ethnicity,
the possibility of lung cancer so Dr Anand Sachithanandan. patients of their pain or distressing lung cancer, which affects the way gender, family history and diet
they can do thorough checks and symptoms, such as if the tumour is the public and even doctors view may also affect your risk of lung
refer their patients to a specialist.” where we try to improve their eroding into the chest wall, they lung cancer patients. cancer.
quality of life and alleviate are coughing up blood, and they “The problem is that there is a “Therefore, we should not be
Receive the right care associated pain or discomfort. We
may get them to live a little longer,
have fluid around their lungs. lack of empathy even among us
doctors towards people with lung
complacent because anyone could
get lung cancer depending on our
When it comes to treatment, Dr too, but ultimately they will still die cancer rather than, say, breast lifestyle choices or genetic
Anand emphasises the need for from the cancer.” Changing minds, changing cancer. A lot of effort has been predisposition. The only things you
early detection of lung cancer.
“There are two goals when treating
For curative treatment, Dr
Anand recommends surgery as the
lives made to increase awareness for
breast cancer, but not much for
can do is to not smoke, live a
healthy lifestyle, and go for
lung cancer. The goal of treatment best treatment option if the patient Recent policy changes passed by lung cancer,” says Dr Anand. screening if you are in a high-risk
for early stage cancer is curative, is fit enough, as it will remove the the Government to ban smoking He explains, “There is the group.”
where we hope to cure the patient. cancerous part of the lung. from eateries and restaurants common assumption that all lung
“For later stages when the “It is the best chance to cure the show that efforts are being made cancer patients are smokers, and n For more information, call
cancer has spread, we can no disease, and it presents the patient towards increasing public that they have brought it upon 03-5639 1212.
longer cure the disease. Therefore, with his best chance for long-term awareness on the dangers of
the goal of treatment is palliative, survival.” smoking.
Early detection saves lives
Dr Anand Sachithanandan, l Smokers or former
consultant cardiothoracic smokers between 45 and 75
surgeon at Subang Jaya Medical years old
Centre, advocates screening for l Individuals with a family
people at high risk of history of lung cancer (first-
developing lung cancer. degree relative)
To identify people at high l Personal history of any
risk, he cites two major clinical cancer
trials – the United States’ 2011
National Lung Screening Trial However, Dr Anand warns
published in New England that screening is not perfect as
Journal of Medicine and the it can only determine the
2017 ES 02.01 The Dutch-Belgian condition of the lungs at the
Lung Cancer Screening Trial time of the screening.
(NELSON) published in Journal “There is no guarantee that
of Thoracic Oncology, both of one will not develop lung
which demonstrated significant cancer in later years. Therefore,
survival benefits for people at depending on the screening
high risk of developing lung results and your clinical profile,
cancer who received targeted doctors will recommend a
screenings with low-dose CT follow-up screening anywhere
lung scans. People in high-risk from between a few months up
categories include: to approximately five years.”