There are still misconceptions about breast cancer screenings in the society

IPOH: Despite being educated, there are still some women who have misconceptions about breast cancer screening.

The National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM)’s managing director, Associate Prof Dr M. Murallitharan, said that one of the reasons this challenge exists is because of the belief in pseudoscience.

He said that one of the myths from this pseudoscience was that mammograms, and other screening tests can lead to breast cancer.

This is a popular false news and a misconception that many women fall for.

“That’s why we run various programmes, including the free mammogram program which is now in its sixth phase,” he said at a press briefing after Raja Permaisuri Perak Tuanku Zala Salim graced an event (free mammogram), held on a hotel Wednesday. (June 5).

NCSM and Etiqa have been working together since 2017 to implement the program, which is now in its sixth stage. It aims to help women who are less fortunate.

Dr Murallitharan said that this programme includes a number of counselling sessions, engagement and awareness sessions, as well as screenings, to help correct misperceptions.

The society, according to Dr Murallitharan, also works with other government agencies in order to address the issues that women of other socioeconomic backgrounds face in regards to breast cancer screening.

He said it was a great value to work with non-governmental organizations that deal with cancer and to have cancer survivors and patients themselves come down to the ground and speak about their experiences.

He said that when women in their age range speak out, they give other women hope and a sense of belonging. This gives them a chance to move forward.

“To combat the myth of the educated groups, the society aggressively trains healthcare professionals.”

“Doctors’ roles are no longer one-dimensional. They must be more persuasive and take on a new approach.

He added that “NCSM will start such training in all states and districts where doctors, nurses, and medical students are trained to act as micro-community influencers, to convince people to overcome their fear and to combat fake news.”

He said that this time, Sabah, Sarawak, and other states would also be included in the sixth phase of free mammogram program.

“Under this programme, we’ll be visiting remote areas and the interior, where some villages require boats to get to them.

“Our goal is to reach 6,000 women in the United States during this phase. In ten states, approximately 27,500 women have undergone mammograms from phase one to phase five.

The majority of women who undergo breast cancer screening are first-time clients. They have never had any type of breast cancer examination before.

He added, “This is a very important target for us. We are staying on track by reaching out to people that are not reachable through other means.”

Linda Pereira is a breast cancer survivor and retired dentist. She said that her life was turned upside down in 2008 when she learned from a doctor that she had the disease.

The 62 year old mother of two told how she was sobbing after leaving the doctor’s office at a Sarawak hospital.

My two daughters at the time were nine and five years old. With the support of my wife, I sought a second opinion and had surgery and radiation in Kuala Lumpur.

She added, “That was 16 years ago but I still have regular checkups. I also joined Pink Unity, an NCSM support group to create awareness.”

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