Materia Medica Malaysiana

March 25, 2007

Male support for breast cancer screening for women is now here

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:20 am

Daily Express: Kota Kinabalu: Men Care or Male Support for Breast Cancer Screening for Women, a breakthrough programme, is now in Sabah.
In a nutshell, it is a matter of getting the support of husbands, brothers, sons – in the fight against breast cancer.
An all-encompassing programme, it was initiated last year to encourage men to become more knowledgeable about breast cancer, adopt a new attitude of care and be supportive of breast cancer screening in women.
To get the programme off the ground, a three-day Training Workshop on “Male Support for Breast Cancer Screening for Women” for service providers of women’s health is being held in the State capital.
This is to address the lack of education and knowledge in men regarding breast cancer.
Launching the training workshop at the Likas Square, State Director of Welfare Services, Datuk Hj Mastor Samin was happy to note that this was the first time it has been held in East Malaysia since the inaugural one was held in Shah Alam by the National Council of Women’s Organisations (NCWO) and Federation of Family Planning Associations, Malaysia in Selangor last November after the official launch of Men Care.
He reminded the participants that breast cancer is the Number Two killer among women in the world.
“It is the Number One cancer among Malaysian women and the leading cause of death from cancers.”
Mastor, who is Chairman of the Sabah Council of Social Services, said Men Care aims to educate and gain the support of husbands, fathers and other members of the male community in this endeavour.
“Essentially, we want the involvement and participation of men to provide support for early detection and timely treatment of breast cancer.
That way, it will reduce the suffering associated with the disease and improve prognosis and chances of survival.”
Calling on men not to take breast cancer lightly, he said: “The important message to women and men is that breast cancer can be cured if detected and treated early. Early screening and treatment saves lives.
“Thus the men in women’s lives, especially husbands, play a decisive role in ensuring that the women go for screening at the nearest centres where breast screening options are available.” The methods of early detection are mammography, breast self-examination (BSE) and clinical breast examination.”
The Director urged husbands not to leave their wives in the lurch if the latter are diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Your support and help is very crucial in each and every step of her journey to recovery.”
Men Care is a collaborative effort by NCWO, Pfizer Malaysia and Asia Foundation.
In Sabah, this project is jointly organised by the Sabah Family Planning Association (SFPA) and NCWO, and sponsored by Pfizer Malaysia.
Pfizer Malaysia Corporate Affairs Manager, Noor Yang Azwar Kamarudin said Pfizer Malaysia supports the project through a grant of RM170,000 in partnership with The Asia Foundation.
NCWO Health Commission member, Piaro Kaur said NCWO embarked on the project to involve Malaysian men in providing appropriate support to women for early screening and treatment of breast cancer.
Despite the many breast cancer awareness campaigns in Malaysia, the uptake of screening among women is still low, she pointed out.
“For some women, especially in the rural areas, it is simply a matter of lack of awareness and information about breast cancer.
For a large number of women, their greatest fear is the reaction of their husbands, and that the husbands may neglect or abandon them.
“Hence, there is a need for men to play a more prominent role in breast cancer screening and awareness.”
According to Piaro, a series of training workshops for healthcare service providers will be rolled out in five regional centres in Malaysia.
“The road show begins in Sabah, followed by Sarawak (April), Kelantan (May), Penang (August) and Johor (September). These providers will in turn cascade the information down to the menfolk within their respective areas.”
More than 36 service providers of women’s health and male advocate groups are attending the training workshop which ends on Sunday.
The training facilitators are Dr Anita Boay, Piaro and Balbir Bhabra Kaur.
The participants were introduced to a comprehensive training manual and handbook for service providers as tools in their breast cancer awareness programme.
Speaking on behalf of SFPA President, Dr Teo Tu Huah, the association’s Council Member, Dr Philip Yap said breast cancer is still very much a stigmatised disease.
“Many still associate it with bizarre beliefs and values such as ‘Éa suffering on earth for the atonement of sinsÉ’ or ‘Éa curseÉ’, and the list goes on.”
He said the RTR Breast Cancer Support Group is grateful to the Sabah Council of Social Services for its financial support since 2001.
“We (SFPA) look forward to the support of more honourable bodies towards our RTR Support Group in terms of fiscal means or donation of related equipment for training and education such as breast models.”
Also present were SFPA State Manager, Yong Su Fung and MPMS Executive Secretary Joanne Lee.
Pzifer Malaysia’s Medical Advisor, Dr Alaster Allum, who also spoke, said due to the stigma of the disease, some women are left with uncertainties and without support.
“Hence the importance of this project – Men Care – as it addresses the vital need for a patient’s support network, where partners are equipped with adequate knowledge on breast cancer and how to help their loved ones deal with it.
“An initiative of this nature serves as a reminder that there is an ongoing need for breast cancer education to keep the disease at bay. Secondly, with untiring support from men, women need not walk the path to recovery alone because Men Care.”
Dr Alaster described the partnership with NCWO as one of shared dedication and commitment to the community, saying “This is a fine example of how Pfizer is ‘Working for a Healthier World’.”
Quoting the Ministry of Health, Pfizer Malaysia’s Medical Advisor, he said it is estimated that 27,000 new cancer cases are detected each year and breast cancer is the leading cause of death among Malaysian women.
“In 2003 itself, 3738 new cases of breast cancer were reported. This means one in 20 women will develop cancer in her lifetime.
On a personal level, we have all been affected by breast cancer either having someone close to us diagnosed of the disease or are survivors of breast cancer.”
Meanwhile, breast cancer survivor Unis @ Hasnah Yabi, 48, who is a housewife, gave a testimony of her experience during the “Sharing of Experiences” session. Willeze Matambun, 41, a medical assistant from Kudat, also related his encounter with at least four cases of breast cancer since his training days at a college in Sarawak.

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