National Cancer Burden

Cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that in 2012, globally there were 14.1 million new cases and more than 8.2 million deaths in the same year. According to estimates from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), by 2030, the global cancer burden is expected to grow to 21.7 million new cancer cases and 13 million cancer deaths. The expected rise is mainly due to the increase in elderly population and adoption of unhealthy lifestyles.

Between 2007-2011, 103,570 new cancer cases were diagnosed in Malaysia and a total of 64,275 medically certified and non-medically certified cancer deaths were reported by the National Cancer Registry during the same period. One in four Malaysians face a lifetime risk of getting cancer. Every 12 minutes, a person is diagnosed with cancer in Peninsular Malaysia (extract from InfoMed Oct 2013).

Like most developed and advanced developing countries, Malaysia is experiencing an epidemiological transition, where diseases related to lifestyle particularly cardiovascular diseases and cancers have progressively become more prevalent.

Cancer represents a tremendous burden on patients, families and societies. Besides the financial cost of disease, cancer has important psychosocial repercussions for patients and their families and remains, in many parts of the world, a stigmatizing disease. Cancer is a complex group of diseases representing more than 100 distinct diseases with different causes and requiring different treatments or interventions. There is no single cause or cure for cancer and everyone is at risk.

The trend of malignant neoplasm in terms of absolute numbers has escalated and remains as one of the five principal causes of national mortality for the past 20 years. In 2015, cancer contributed 13.6 % of all deaths in Ministry of Health hospitals compared with 8.9% in 1996.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is the umbrella name given to hundreds of diseases and disorders. Though talked about as lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancers are many more, the disease does not really affect the organ but affects the cell of the organ. The name of the cancer comes from the organ affected. Each organ produces a specific kind of cell. For example, with the colon (a major organ in your intestine), is made up of cells and when those cells become cancerous, colon cancer is diagnosed.

The cells will become cancerous if they begin to divide without controller function. This will cause damage to other cells as the dividing cells vie for space and dominancy. The normal function of the cells is to divide to replace old cells. When the cancerous cells divide without control, the other cells have little chance competing with them. The uncontrolled dividing cells take up more and more space until they become a mass of cells and become tumor or growth. Once large enough, the tumor can cause discomfort or even pain. The tumor, if not removed, will grow big enough so that you can actually see or feel the affected area. In short, cancer development is caused by the continuous and unregulated proliferation of cells. Instead of responding appropriately to the signals that regulate normal cell behaviour, these cancer cells grow and divide out of control and invades normal tissues and organs, eventually spreading throughout the body.

There are two different kinds of tumors. The first type of tumor is the benign and is not life threatening. It usually does not spread. They are akin to a wart or growth you might see on your skin. A doctor may choose to remove the benign tumor are just to leave it because to disturb the tumor might cause the cancer to become malignant. When the tumor cells do become malignant, the tumor now is cancerous.

These cancerous cells can spread throughout the body and invade each cell, tissue, or organ. If the cancer is spread too much, it can even enter the blood stream and cause blood cancer. This is the most

serious type of cancer because the cancer cells now are incorporated to all parts of your body. As the cancer spreads throughout your body, the new cancer cells will invade healthy cells and cause them to become cancerous. A simple tumor can spread cancerous cells into all the organ systems of the body and eventually one will succumb and die.

There are more than 200 types of cancer, and each warrants more research to find a cure. Hence, we shall focus on cancers common in our part of the world, on Asian genetics. Here are the top 5 cancers in Year 2020, afflicting Male and Female Malaysians as per the latest report by Global Cancer Observatory (published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, WHO) published in March 2021.

Source: The Global Cancer Observatory – International Agency for Research on Cancer (WHO). March 2021

Most Common Types of Cancer Found in Men

Cancer affects men and women, but there are some cancers which affect men more than women. Also, many times these cancers are more deadly in men than they are in women. Here are the Top 5 Cancers that are most prevalent in Men in Malaysia:

  1. Lung Cancer – Lung cancers typically start in the cells lining the bronchi and parts of the lung such as the bronchioles or alveoli and can affect any part of the respiratory system. Lung cancer often spreads (metastasizes) to other parts of the body, such as the brain and the bones. Once lung cancer has spread beyond the lungs, it is generally not curable. The number of new cases in 2020 are 17.0% (3,925).
  • Colorectal Cancer – This is the third most common cancer found in men globally. Most often  found in people age fifty and older. It is also known as bowel cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer, and it is any cancer that affects the colon and rectum. The number of new cases in 2020 are 15.4% (3,540).
  • Prostate Cancer – This is the most common cancer diagnosed in men globally. The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system that surrounds the urethra just below the bladder. Most prostate cancers are slow growing. Cancerous cells may spread to other areas of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes. The incidence trend increased at the age of 55 years and mostly diagnosed after the age of 65 years old. The number of new cases in 2020 are 9.3% (3,540).
  • Nasopharyngeal Cancer – a type of head and neck cancer. It starts in the nasopharynx, the upper part of the throat behind the nose and near the base of the skull. It is 40 times more likely to affect Asians than Caucasians. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is the most common form of cancer in the nasopharynx. Adenocarcinoma and adenoid cystic carcinoma are cancers that can start in the minor salivary glands in the nasopharynx. But these cancers are more commonly found in the nose (nasal cavity) or mouth (oral cavity). The number of new cases in 2020 are 7.4% (1,703).
  • Liver Cancer – arises from the endometrium (the lining of the uterus or womb). It is the result of the abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body. The first sign is most often vaginal bleeding not associated with a menstrual period. The number of new cases in 2020 are 6.7% (1,553).

Most Common Types of Cancer Found in Women

The cancers that only women get are gynecological cancers of the reproductive organs. Here are the Top 5 Cancers that are most prevalent in Women in Malaysia:

  1. Breast Cancer – the most common cancer in women in almost every country, In 2018, 2 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer. The number of Asian women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the next 30 years will nearly double that of everyone else. The incidence was highest among Chinese followed by Indian and Malay. Most of the cases were presented at the age of 45-69 years and reduced after the age of 70 years. The number of new cases in 2020 are 32.9% (8,418).
  • Colorectal Cancer – also known as bowel cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer, is any cancer that affects the colon and rectum. The number of new cases in 2020 are 11.9% (3,057).
  • Ovarian Cancer – is less common than breast or cervical cancer, but it is more lethal as there is no screening for early detection available yet. Occurs when abnormal cells in the ovary begin to multiply out of control and form a tumor. If left untreated, the tumor can spread to other parts of the body. This is called metastatic ovarian cancer. The number of new cases in 2020 are 7.2% (1,836).
  • Cervical Cancer – begins and occurs in the cells of the cervix (the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina). Various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection, play a role in causing most cervical cancer. The number of new cases in 2020 are 6.8% (1,740).
  • Endometrial Cancer – arises from the endometrium (the lining of the uterus or womb). It is the result of the abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body. The first sign is most often vaginal bleeding not associated with a menstrual period. The number of new cases in 2020 are 5.5% (1,401).

What is Cancer Staging and the Importance of Cancer Staging?

Cancer staging: It is a way to describe the size of a cancer and how far it has grown and spread throughout the body. It is important as it is to determine the best treatment to treat the patient.

Stage 1: the cancer is relatively small and contained within the organ it started in.

Stage 2: usually means that the tumour is larger than in stage 1, but the cancer has not started to spread into the surrounding tissues. Sometimes stage 2 means that cancer cells have spread into lymph nodes close to the tumour. This depends on the particular type of cancer.

Stage 3: usually means the cancer is larger. It may have started to spread into surrounding tissues and there are cancer cells in the lymph nodes in the area.

Stage 4: means the cancer has spread from where it started to another body organ. This also called secondary or metastatic cancer.

We shall learn more on the Risk factors, common signs and symptoms, of cancer in the next blog.

Learn more how Hi-Bliss Hydrogen Therapy and Hydrogen Water can help improve the Quality of Life of Cancer patients here:


  • Hydrogen: A Novel Option in Human Disease Treatment ~ Mengling Yang, Yinmiao Dong, Qingnan He PHARMACEUTICAL AND PHARMACOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF MODULATION OF OXIDATIVE STRESS 2020
  • Hydrogen Gas in Cancer Treatment ~ Sai Li, Rongrong Liao, Xiaoyan Sheng FRONTIERS IN ONCOLOGY – CANCER MOLECULAR TARGETS AND THERAPEUTICS. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2019.00696
  • “Real world survey” of hydrogen-controlled cancer: a follow-up report of 82 advanced cancer patients~ Ji-Bing Chen, Xiao-Feng Kong, You-Yong MEDICAL GAS RESEARCH. doi: 10.4103/2045-9912.266985