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October 14, 2019

Increased awareness a necessity to reduce Myanmar’s rate of cancer

Asia accounts for 60 per cent of the world’s population and half the global burden of cancer.
The incidences of cancer cases are estimated to have increased globally from 18.1 million in 2018, while 9.6 million died of the disease.
Myanmar faced an estimated 69554 new cancer cases, as 51,059 died of cancer in 2018. Since that time, the figure has steadily increased. Cancer deaths are predicted to increase by over two-thirds by 2030.
It is believed that the causes of cancer are air pollution, food, lifestyle and genes. Today, most cancers are preventable. Early detection and prevention save about 3.7 million lives every year throughout the world.
The rising, troubling rate of cancer in Myanmar could be reversed in two simple steps – early detection and prevention, which includes a healthier lifestyle and vaccinations.
Much too often in Myanmar, cancer patients are first seen by doctors only when the disease has already progressed to its late stages, when it is harder to treat and when the survival rate is low.
Awareness is the key, and increased awareness of the warning signs of these cancers by the general public is a necessity.
Awareness for the people of Myanmar includes understanding the dangers of tobacco and betel, early signs of cancers and the need to seek proper medical advice early.
If you do not know about early warning signs, the value of early intervention or the risks of smoking or chewing betel behaviour will not change.
For Myanmar men, the most prevalent cancer is lung or oral cancer, which is linked to smoking and the chewing of betel nut. For the female population of Myanmar, the largest cancer risks are cervical and breast cancer. Testing, annual screenings and early intervention for both types of cancers are currently inadequate.
Health education activities regarding risk factors and early warning signs of these cancers still need to be promoted.
Cancer research and treatment has progressed and survival has doubled in the last 40 years. We need to have a close collaboration with all partners, both national and international, concerning prevention, creating awareness, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
However, low socio-economic status, communication difficulties because of rough geographical terrains in remote areas, language barriers among ethnic groups (there are more than 100 ethnic groups, each with their own dialect), insufficient media access, traditional taboos and stigmas are hampering the efforts at providing oncological health education to all communities across the country.
This leads to a lack of awareness, late detection of the disease, and failure to seek proper treatment.

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