Breast cancer screening in Malaysia: a policy review

Mila Nu Nu Htay, Michael Donnelly, Desiree Schliemann, Siew Yim Loh, Maznah Dahlui, Saunthari Somasundaram, Nor Saleha Binti Ibrahim Tamin, Tin Tin Su

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Background: Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer among Malaysian women. The implementation of prevention measures including screening has the potential to reduce late presentation and the burden of breast cancer.
Aims: This paper aimed to review public health policy relating to breast cancer screening in Malaysia in order to contribute to policy development regarding cancer prevention, detection and the improvement of services for Malaysian women.
Methods: A systematic review strategy included a specific search of the website of the Ministry of Health in Malaysia for relevant policies. In addition, we searched Google and PubMed for breast cancer screening programmes, policies, and guidelines for women in Malaysia; and experts and stakeholders provided additional resources, published in Malay language. Relevant guidelines in the Malay language were translated into English and included the document review.
Results: The policy analysis indicated that although it is known that screening, early detection and diagnosis improve survival rates, delayed diagnosis remains a significant issue. The Ministry of Health policy stipulates the provision of opportunistic mammography screening. However, the uptake is varied, and implementation is challenging due to a lack of awareness about screening and difficulties related to accessing services, especially in rural areas. The establishment and implementation of referral guidelines is essential to receive timely treatment for breast cancer patients. There is a need to enhance the cancer reporting by the doctors to the national cancer registry, in collaboration with government services and the private cancer-care sector to improve the monitoring and evaluation of cancer control policies and programmes.
Conclusion: A focus on raising awareness, increasing the accessibility of screening facilities and improving referral processes and the overall connectivity of the cancer care system are key steps to down-staging breast cancer in Malaysia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1685-1693
Number of pages8
JournalAsian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021


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