Mother’s Day walk against cancer

Dr Daren Teoh

Mystery over Sabah’s missing 900 new cases a year

Dr Daren Teoh is unhappy. Sabah has been missing 900 new breast cancer patients every year. And he fears that they might have sought the wrong treatment or none at all and died too soon. There should be 1,200 of them based on the world’s average. But hospitals record only 300.

“This means two-thirds of breast cancer patients have not gone to hospital for treatment,” says Dr Teoh, who heads the oncology department of the Likas Hospital in Kota Kinabalu. They might have sought vain cures from traditional medicine men. Compounding the problem is that few women in the village are aware of the deadly disease.

Dr Teoh tells Insight Sabah that there are about 20,000 who have survived breast cancer in Sabah. The Kinabalu Pink Ribbon (KPR), of which he is technical advisor, has 231 members. About 80% of them are surviving patients.

Lucilla PangKPR was formed two years ago by Lucilla Pang, 52, a surviving patient, to give support to people like her and to drive home the message to women that early detection saves lives.

The NGO is holding its second Mother’s Day Walk Abreast at 6.30 a.m. on Sunday, May 13. It hopes to raise enough funds to buy a van so that its members can go to the villages to tell women there of the disease and the right thing to do.

Dr Teoh who will shave himself bald to show his support for KPR says he has three messages for women: Go to the hospital at once for a check-up if they have a lump in their breasts; those 40 years and older must undergo a mammogram screening as they have a higher risk of the disease; and those who are found to have it should seek treatment from cancer specialists and not quacks.

Going bald is his way of identifying with cancer patients. “I make many women bald during their treatment,” he says. “I’m showing them that I’m on their side. I always tell patients that it’s OK if hair is gone but life is back.”

Cancer treatment, Dr Teoh says, has improved in Sabah. Patients have new surgical options with new equipment. A nuclear and radiotherapy centre is being set up at Likas Hospital that will give patients better treatment.

Those whose cancer is discovered during its first stage has 95% of surviving for more than five years, he says. Some have survived for more than 25 years. But stage four sufferers have only a 15% chance of survival.

Dr Teoh is troubled that one-third of stage three and four breast cancer patients did not seek proper treatment but instead relied on traditional medicine men such as “bomohs”, adding that more than half of cancers reported in 2007 were in well advanced stages.

KPR will give free ultrasound breast screening to the first 100 women aged between 25 and 39 who take part in the 4-km walkathon starting at Wisma Wanita in Jalan Tuaran. The screening will be done at the Sabah Family Planning clinic.

Walkathon participants stand to win an iPhone 4s and 99 other lucky draw prizes. There is no prize for winning the race. – Insight Sabah

Click here for Mother's Day Walk Abreast entry form

– With reporting by Rebecca Chong; Pictures by Victor Lo

 Pink Ribbon in Kota Kinabalu ►

The killer can be stopped ►

Posted on May 10, 2012

Malay 中文 Kadazan
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  • Mother’s Day

    By herbalife malaysia on 13-06-2012 11:44 pm

    Thanks for the good info.

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