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Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital Endocrine and Breast Surgery division chief and senior consultant surgeon Datuk Dr Imi Sairi Ab Hadi showing a chart on cancer in Kelantan at the hospital in Kota Baru recently. PIX BY ZAMAN HURI ISA

KOTA BARU: MORE than half of cancer patients in Kelantan trust alternative treatments, such as homeopathy, taking herbal drinks and seeking help from bomoh.

Fear of consulting doctors has caused as many as 54 per cent of cancer patients in the state to rely on alternative treatments.

They seek medical treatment only when the cancer is at stage three or four, leading to a higher risk of death.

Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital (HRPZ II) Endocrine and Breast Surgery division chief and senior consultant surgeon Datuk Dr Imi Sairi Ab Hadi said patients were more likely to trust alternative treatments.

“They have an incorrect perception of hospital care and treatment. Only when the situation gets worse do they seek assistance from a hospital.

“When it’s at this stage, the risk of disease progression is high and the cancer could have spread further,” he told the New Straits Times Press at HRPZ II.

There are also patients who believe in myths, told by family members and friends.

“One of the belief is that breast cancer patients should not expose their breasts to sharp objects, which can cause the cancer to spread.

“There is also a belief that if you drink only soursop juice, herbal water and health products, you will be cured.

“Although this may be good for health, it cannot treat cancer.

“Sadly, these patients would rather endure pain by listening to family members and friends, rather than seeking treatment at a hospital.”

Dr Imi Sairi said cancer patients should seek treatment and care first from hospitals, which had the expertise and facilities.

“As a medical practitioner, I do not prevent patients from seeking alternative treatments.

“It may boost a patient’s immune system, which is usually weakened when undergoing medical treatment.

“But, I fear patients will abandon their treatment at the hospital and rely on alternative methods.”

He said HRPZ II, in collaboration with various parties, including non-governmental organisations, had conducted programmes, such as roadshows and free mammogram services, to encourage people to seek treatment at hospitals.

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