LCNM, MOS and NCSM’s new campaign encourages conversations on lung cancer
KUALA LUMPUR, 1 September 2020 – Lung Cancer Network Malaysia (LCNM), Malaysian Oncological Society (MOS), and the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM), with the support of AstraZeneca Malaysia and Roche Malaysia, have joined forces to launch the Knowing Lung Cancer awareness campaign to empower Malaysians, especially people with lung cancer and high-risk groups, to know lung cancer better and ultimately allow for early detection and the right treatment in a timely manner.
Lung cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in Malaysia[i]. For years, it has also been considered one of the deadliest cancers globally[ii] – partly because lung cancer is not easy to detect early on. In fact, 93% of men and 92% of women who have lung cancer were diagnosed at stages 3 and 41. At this point, the cancer cells would have already spread to different parts of the lungs, the lymph nodes[iii], or even other organs[iv], causing other complications.
Early detection makes a significant difference – it allows timely treatment, which ultimately enables people with lung cancer to slow down their disease progression, manage their condition better, live much longer and enjoy a better quality of life.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of lung cancer – especially at early stages – are not very distinct. They are also very common, such as persistent cough, chest pains, unexplained weight loss and shortness of breath[v]. More often than not, these symptoms get brushed off as common ailments caused by a sedentary lifestyle or stress. Unknown to many, it is something bigger and more serious.
Emphasising the importance of lung cancer awareness, Dr Anand Sachithanandan, co-founder of LCNM and Cardiothoracic Surgeon shared, “Lung cancer is no longer just a male smoker’s problem. It is affecting more everyday Malaysians. The public needs to be aware that lung cancer is preventable and potentially curable if detected at an early stage. Unfortunately, we see many cases of people with advanced lung cancer who did not get their symptoms checked early because they did not fit the profile for the disease. This is why we decided to partner with local oncologists from MOS and cancer support groups, such as NCSM, to launch the Knowing Lung Cancer awareness campaign.”
The Knowing Lung Cancer campaign is an integrated education campaign with the objective to increase lung cancer awareness among the public and encourage those with lung cancer, high-risk groups, and their caregivers to discuss lung cancer more openly. Through social media platforms, it aims to promote conversations around lung cancer for early detection and its timely treatment.
The campaign will run primarily on LCNM’s Facebook and Instagram platforms, offering educational content about lung cancer and support for those affected by the disease. The campaign organisers, LCNM, MOS, and NCSM, hope to spark a greater understanding and discourse about lung cancer on these widely used platforms.
“Through this campaign, we hope to encourage more conversations between high-risk groups and their General Practitioners (GPs) as primary care doctors have an important role in helping high-risk groups or people with lung cancer to be swiftly diagnosed and treated effectively,” explained Dr Anand.
“There is an important need to talk about lung cancer more extensively in this country. Cancer is often perceived as a taboo subject and people are often frightened or embarrassed to talk about it openly. The sooner we change mindsets, we are able to build an informed society that is able to recognise the symptoms for early detection and timely treatment,” Dr Anand further added.
Meanwhile, speaking on new cancer treatments, Dr Muhammad Azrif Ahmad Annuar, President of MOS and Consultant Oncologist shared that, “Through the Knowing Lung Cancer campaign, we hope to be able to empower people with the knowledge on how cancer is treated and what it is like to live with the disease. The treatment landscape for lung cancer has evolved tremendously over the years, with newer treatments such as immunotherapy and targeted therapy. This has enabled positive results in achieving better prognosis and quality of life for people living with lung cancer.”
Beyond the hard facts, the campaign will also address other issues that come with living with lung cancer. These include how to cope with lung cancer diagnosis, mental health for people with lung cancer and their caregivers, and choosing the most suitable treatment for better quality of life. Ultimately, LCNM, MOS, and NCSM hope to empower Malaysians to make informed decisions about how best to tackle lung cancer should it affect them.
“Most people, especially those who are directly affected by cancer, often downplay the importance of cancer support. While early detection and timely treatment is important, those living with cancer must not forget about getting the emotional support that they need. Having a positive mentality is imperative and makes a difference to not only the survivor’s cancer journey but also their caregivers. We truly value the tremendous support received through this partnership, as it enables us to serve more people living with cancer in the country,” said Dr Saunthari Somasundaram, President of NCSM.
“At AstraZeneca, we are committed to building a holistic ecosystem for patients that encompasses the entire lung cancer journey, starting from building the awareness levels to the management of lung cancer. We believe that a collaborative approach with different partners is essential to achieving this ambition and this multi-partnership is a step in this direction. We hope that the Knowing Lung Cancer campaign will empower more people to take charge of lung cancer through early screening and treatment,” explained Dr Sanjeev Panchal, Country President, AstraZeneca Malaysia.
“We at Roche are extremely humbled to be part of this strategic partnership as we are passionate about transforming patients’ lives and developing innovations for the future. This campaign is indeed a meaningful collaboration, as every one of us has a role to play in increasing lung cancer awareness and highlighting the need for early detection and right treatment in a timely manner for better patient outcomes, which is in line with our purpose at Roche: Doing now what patients need next. The patient is and will remain at the core and everything of what we do – let’s continue aiming high as this will deliver truly great results for patients and societies,” said Dr. Charles Li, Medical Director at Roche Malaysia.
About Lung Cancer Network Malaysia (LCNM)
Lung Cancer Network Malaysia (LCNM) is a non-commercial, non-governmental organisation (NGO) dedicated solely and exclusively to addressing all aspects and all stages of lung cancer here in Malaysia including preventative strategies, screening of high-risk individuals, diagnosis, staging and both curative and palliative treatment of victims. The organisation’s multidisciplinary network includes highly trained medical specialists (from the public and private sectors) and allied healthcare professionals including dietitians, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and psychologists.
LCNM seeks to improve outcomes through advocacy, education and awareness for both the Malaysian public and primary care (general practice) doctors. We aim to promote evidence-based scientific recommendations in an unbiased and easily understood manner to support and guide decision-making by patients and their families, doctors and other caregivers.
Learn more about LCNM on https://lungcancer.net.my/.
About Malaysian Oncological Society (MOS)
The Malaysian Oncological Society (MOS) is a local organisation that consists of doctors and specialists who have an interest in treating cancer patients. The society members include oncologists, physicians, and surgeons. First established in 1976, The main objectives of MOS are to promote evidence-based oncology among our members, support research in cancer in Malaysia and to collaborate with other societies and organizations to raise cancer awareness among the public.
Visit https://www.malaysiaoncology.org/ to learn more about MOS.
About National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM)
The National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) is the first not-for-profit cancer organisation in Malaysia that provides education, care and support services for people affected by cancer. Over the last 50 years, it provides holistic cancer support to patients and caregivers. NCSM supports patients in understanding and dealing with cancer in various phases through its five cancer centres – the Cancer and Health Screening Clinic, Nuclear Medicine Centre, Resource and Wellness Centre, Quit Smoking Clinic and the Children’s Home of Hope and has branches in six states, i.e. Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Perak, Penang and Sarawak.
For more information, visit www.cancer.org.my
[i] Ministry of Health. Malaysia National Cancer Registry Report 2012-2016. (pg. 17, 39)
[ii] World Health Organisation. Cancer. Available on https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer (Last retrieved 4 August 2020)
[iii] Cancer Research UK. Lung Cancer – Stage 3. Available on https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/lung-cancer/stages-types-grades/stage-3 (Last retrieved 4 August 2020)
[iv] Cancer Research UK. Lung Cancer – Stage 4. Available on: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/lung-cancer/stages-types-grades/stage-4 (Last retrieved 4 August 2020)
[v] American Cancer Society. Signs & Symptoms of Lung Cancer. Available on https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html (Last retrieved 4 August 2020).
The campaign is supported by AstraZeneca Malaysia and Roche Malaysia