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Helping The Poor Fight Colon Cancer

03 April 2010

From left) Dr Christina Ng, Datuk Aminah Abdul Rahman and Datin Paduka Khatijah Sulieman at the launch of EMPOWERED’s project to inform and support the poor in the battle against the killer disease.

PETALING JAYA: Underprivileged communities will now have greater access to information, support and treatment to fight one of the most common killer diseases in Malaysia -- colon (colorectal) cancer.

EMPOWERED -- the cancer advocacy society of Malaysia -- yesterday unveiled its Colon Cancer Screening Community Project, a community-wide awareness and screening initiative specific to the disease.

EMPOWERED founder and president Dr Christina Ng said the project had four main objectives:

  • » To trigger public awareness about the prevalent disease and the importance of early detection of colon cancer;
  • » To provide education on healthy living to a community with low awareness of cancer;
  • » To determine the feasibility of screening for colon cancer in a Malaysian population using the Faecal Immunohistochemical Test (FIT) kit; and ultimately
  • » To save lives.

Many people are unaware that colorectal cancer is the most common cancer affecting Malaysian men, and the third most common affecting women, with the highest incidence among the Chinese community.

While the precise cause of colon cancer is yet unknown, it is possible to detect the disease early, increasing the patient's chance of a successful recovery.

National Population and Family Development Board director-general Datuk Aminah Abdul Rahman, who launched the project on behalf of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, said: "Outreach projects like these are critical for the wellbeing of the community.

"It grants access to all segments of Malaysians to education, information and total disease support for a disease such as cancer.

"Such access was not available before. I applaud the collaboration across the various medical, welfare and community-led organisations in decreasing the health risks of the society."

Dr Ng said screening projects to detect colon cancer in its early stage in Australia and UK have resulted in a reduction in colon cancer deaths, which is what the society hoped to achieve with the project.

"We are targeting the poorer and less informed members of our society within the Sentul community.

"We have worked closely with the community in the development of this project to ensure that our outreach methods are both socially and culturally acceptable to the residents of this community.

"The local flats' leaders are involved in the implementation of the project as this provides the residents with the comfort of engaging with familiar faces, apart from the many volunteers we have," she said.

Piloting in eight different flats within Sentul, EMPOWERED is working with the community flat leaders to implement this project in three phases -- pre-selection, workshop and results and counselling.

"Financial support is a significant factor we need to take into consideration especially for the underprivileged community we are reaching out to.

"Hence, we are working closely with the Social Welfare Department to provide welfare assistance to patients who need to take time off work to seek further testing and treatment," said Datin Paduka Khatijah Sulieman, vice-president of the National Council of Welfare and Social Development, which supports the campaign.

For information on the EMPOWERED Colon Cancer Screening Community Project, visit, call 03-6142 4001