SELANGOR, December 7 2023 — Roche (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, the pharmaceutical division, hosted a panel discussion in collaboration with the Lung Cancer Network Malaysia (LCNM). The event, titled ‘A Breath Of Fresh Hope’ focused on an in-depth conversation about the alarming prevalence of lung cancer in non-smoking Malaysian women, addressing the social stigma and related medical implications.
Over 2.2 million lung cancer cases were reported in 2020 globally, and more than 770,000 of them were in women. Skyrocketing by a massive 79 per cent in the past few decades, that brings lung cancer to the list of the top three types of malignancies seen in the global female population, right after breast and colorectal.
Moderated by Ms. Deepti Saraf, General Manager of Roche Malaysia, the panel consisted of Dr. Anand Sachithanandan, Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Co-Founder of LCNM; Dr Jennifer Leong, Consultant Clinical Oncologist and Associate Professor Dr. Caryn Mei Hsien Chan, Consultant Health Psychologist.
All three specialists emphasised the need to increase access to diagnostic and therapeutic tools for women battling with lung cancer — a commonly overlooked patient demographic who account for a significant portion of the national disease burden.
“Less than 2% of women here are smokers, but lung cancer is the fourth most common malignancy,” shared Dr. Anand. “There is a genuine lack of awareness amongst both the general public and doctors as well about factors other than smoking that predispose women to lung cancer — secondhand smoke, high levels of exposure to air pollution, asbestos or radon. A family history for the disease is another significant risk factor that is often overlooked.” According to Dr Anand, lung cancer is no longer a male smokers disease but if detected early, it can be treated effectively and often cured.
The conversation is a timely conclusion of the recent global lung cancer awareness month in November, reiterating the significance of continued awareness. Roche has been at the forefront of leading initiatives that bring forth neglected disease areas into the public sphere. Highlighting the consequential nature of stirring such dialogue, Deepti noted, “Last month we celebrated Lung Cancer Awareness month with a lot of important conversations about the burden of the disease especially in women. Women’s cancers and diseases like lung cancer need stronger focus, policies and investment from the system to diagnose and treat it earlier with an integrated approach.”
Aside from the medical implications, the panel also discussed the barriers to seeking a proper diagnosis, especially for women of younger age, underscoring the implications of the social stigma. “Many women harbour the preconceived notion that because they don’t smoke, they are not at risk of lung cancer. This is a dangerous misconception to have. At times, even when displaying typical symptoms, they can easily get missed and not get the required medical attention in the earlier stages of disease, affecting their chances at longer survival,” explained Dr. Jennifer.
Prof. Caryn further elaborated on the mental health burden seen in cancer patients, and how it’s a commonly neglected aspect of cancer treatment, “Getting diagnosed with cancer is an extremely significant life event for patients, for obvious reasons. There is a significant group of them who never reach the point of seeking professional help to process the grief, and the effects of it can end up exacerbating their already declining physical health,” she added, stating why both the extremes of despair and toxic positivity can harm patients and their families’ wellbeing.
The insightful panel session came to an end with a call to action, encouraging everyone to assume responsibility for their well-being and a heightened awareness of potential risk factors.
“A heightened awareness of risk factors that translate to actionable steps like regular health screenings is the key to changing the lung cancer landscape in Malaysia,” concluded Deepti. “There is also a need to bolster the infrastructure of oncology care and work towards equitable therapeutic access for women with lung cancer, regardless of their socio-economic status. Both Roche and LCNM are dedicated in their support for the cause, and are exploring future collaborations for continued advocacy.”
Wiki Impact is an online platform dedicated to the impact industry. We share stories and data on issues that matter, highlighting impact-driven organizations and changemakers on the ground. Now, everyone can experience the impact industry, get data to give effectively, and bring more fulfilment and purpose to life.
Ⓒ 2024 All rights reserved Made with ❤️ by Rootcode