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Need to raise cancer awareness


STIGMA: Public education about cancer survivorship is neglected, says doctor

SUBANG JAYA:  THERE is a need for better public education on cancer to break the stigma that cancer patients should just "accept their fate", said Sime Darby Medical Centre Subang Jaya consultant clinical oncologist and radiotherapist Dr Matin Mellor Abdullah.

Dr Matin, who spoke at the first Cancer Survivorship Conference organised by the Malaysian Oncological Society, said public education about cancer was often neglected, especially the issue of cancer survivorship.

"There is so much misinformation about cancer from a variety of sources, especially on the Internet.

"Instead of relying on Google searches, the treating doctor should be the focal point for advice," he said yesterday.

Dr Matin also said people should not feel like they were "guinea pigs" while participating in clinical trials, and should instead understand that they were participating for the advancement of knowledge in medicine.

He said people should be more open to participating in clinical trials for the benefit of future patients and possibly, for themselves.

Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM) chief executive officer Dr Mohamed Ali Abu Bakar said the trend of participating in clinical trials was gradually growing in Asia, especially in Malaysia.

"In other countries, people are eager and they queue up to be a clinical trial participant.

"The fear that being participants will not do any good is not true. Clinical trials are the leading option to help in the advancement of cancer research," Dr Ali said.

CRM, he added, was currently conducting a study to see what motivated the public to participate in clinical trials.

Dr Ali said last year, 20 clinical oncology trials were conducted and this year the Health Ministry had targeted 460 clinical trials for various medical conditions.

The Cancer Survivorship Conference, a patient-centred conference, was held to address issues and concerns raised by cancer survivors regarding treatment, diet, clinical trials, lifestyle and coping with emotions.

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