Facts and Figures
Breast cancer is a major global health problem and the leading cause of death among women of all ethnic backgrounds. Each year, an estimated 1.6 million new cases are diagnosed worldwide and in 2015, 560 thousand women will die of breast cancer.
- World Health Organisation
- National Cancer Registry of Malaysia 2005-2007.
Pick 19 women at random and chances are that one of these women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. That is how common the disease in Malaysia and how randomly it strikes. Around 5,000 Malaysian women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, most of them aged between 30 and 60 years, where nearly half of those affected are under 50-years of age.
At Cancer Research Malaysia, we are conducting research to find better ways to accurately identify women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer, conducting research to better understand how to cure the disease, and conducting research to help us improve patient support through patient navigation.
We are reversing the prevalence of breast cancer. We are reversing the toll breast cancer takes in our families and our communities.
- The Genetics Programme
- More than a Mammo
- The Patient Navigation Programme
- Breast Cancer Awareness
- Scientific Publications
Since the 1850s, we have known that some cancers occur in families, and breast cancer is a cancer with a strong familial component. By studying the genes that go wrong in our own cells which make us more likely to develop breast cancer, we now have realistic opportunities to transform predictive medicine and cancer screening.
- Instead of screening all women over the age of 50, we now know that some women are at higher risk and may require screening as early as 25 years old, others may require screening starting at a later age, and some others may have such low lifetime risk that there is limited benefit to screening. By studying the genes and lifestyle factors which make each woman different, we aim to build better ways of accurately predicting risk so that we can target prevention and screening to help reduce the burden of breast cancer in future generations of Malaysian women.
To find out the genes and lifestyle factors which cause breast cancer, we are studying women who have developed breast cancer and compare these with healthy women from the same population. Until end of Dec 2014, more than 2,900 Malaysian breast cancer patients from University Malaya (UM) and Sime Darby Medical Centre have participated in the “Malaysian Breast Cancer Genetic Study” dubbed MyBrCa (my-bra-kah) and 1,900 healthy Malaysian women have participated in the “More than a Mammo” programme.
- MyBrCa and “More than a Mammo” determine how genes and lifestyle contribute to breast cancer and using these data, we aim to build a risk assessment tool so that Malaysian women can accurately determine their risk of breast cancer. Together with the International Breast Cancer Association Consortium, we have increased our knowledge of the number of breast cancer genes from 10 to more than 100. This research now opens up the possibility that we can more accurately identify women at risk of breast cancer.
Using genetic testing methods, we have analysed the role of breast cancer genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 in Malaysian breast cancer patients. These patients are then offered specialist services to take appropriate screening and prophylactic steps to reduce their risk to cancer under our Familial Research Programme. These patients also help us determine what is the risk of developing cancer for a woman who inherits a gene in BRCA1 or BRCA2.
- This is particularly urgent because although the risk to Caucasian BRCA carriers (such as Angelina Jolie) are known, the risk to Asian women are not yet known and could be lower because of differences in lifestyle factors such as the number of children we have, how long we breast feed for and other lifestyle factors.
- In addition, we have analysed the role of other genes which may cause an increased risk to breast cancer and contributed to international studies such as the Breast Cancer Association Consortium to identify new breast cancer genes. Collectively, we have now identified 50% of the excess familial risk to breast cancer and our current project is to use next generation sequencing methods to identify the remaining excess familial risk.
- TAKE ACTION!
Contribute to our research by participating in the “MyBrCa” or “More than a Mammo” research studies. To find out more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Supported by funds raised through the Sime Darby LPGA and in collaboration with Ramsay Sime Darby Healthcare, the “More than a Mammo” programme seeks to understand the genes and lifestyle factors that contribute to mammographic density and breast cancer risk. Any Malaysian woman aged over 40 can participate in the programme and all research participants receive a mammogram at a subsidised fee of RM50 (normal fee RM235).
- Buoyed by the success of the “More than a Mammo” programme, the “Be a Boob Buddy” Campaign aims to remind every woman to be a Boob Buddy to her loved ones, to encourage men to also be Boob Buddies and to remind each woman to set a date for her mammogram/breast self-examination..
Mammograms are the most effective way of detecting cancer. We now know that women who have mammographic dense breasts (mammograms with many white areas) have up to 5 times higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to women than do not have mammographic dense breasts, and that genes and lifestyle factors can affect mammographic density. We also know that Asian women have mammographic denser breasts, but ironically, lower risk to breast cancer compared to Caucasian women, but we do not understand why.
We are studying the lifestyle and genetic determinants of mammographic density and aim to combine these to develop a personalized risk score for each woman.
- TAKE ACTION!
Contribute to our efforts to develop more accurate ways of calculating risk by participating in the “More than Mammo” Programme. To participate, you need to:
- +be a Malaysian woman. be 40 years of age or older*.
- +have no personal history of breast cancer.
- +have not gone for a mammogram for the last 12 months.
- +donate a small amount of blood.
- +complete a questionnaire about factors that relate to breast cancer such as whether you have even been pregnant, your age when menstrual periods began, your exercise and other habits.
- +have a mammogram at Breast Care Centre, Sime Darby Medical Centre Subang Jaya.
- *If you are less than 40 years of age and have a close relative with breast cancer, you should consult your doctor about the benefits and limitations of mammograms. With a doctor’s referral, you are still eligible for the study.
- To make an appointment, please call: +603 5639 1340
- Breast Care Centre, 1st Floor Outpatient Centre,
Sime Darby Medical Centre Subang Jaya, 1, SS12/1A,
47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor.
- For more information about the research study, please email email@example.com
In sharp contrast to Singapore and Korea where 5year survival for breast cancer is more than 85%, survival for breast cancer remains poor because of late presentation. Late presentation in turn is driven by a lack of awareness of the signs and symptoms, fear of screening and seeking alternative treatment, rather than evidence-based medicines.
The “Be a Boob Buddy” and “Breast Friends Forever” campaigns seeks to increase awareness of breast cancer by encouraging all men and women to help their friends and family be aware of their risk to breast cancer, to come forward for screening mammograms if they are over 50 years old, and to lead a healthy lifestyle to reduce their risk of cancer.
Since 2007, each year in October, Cancer Research Malaysia raises awareness of breast cancer by partnering with Estee Lauder Group of Companies.
- Since 2011, each year in October, Cancer Research Malaysia raises awareness of breast cancer by partnering with the Sime Darby LPGA tournament. We distribute wrist bands and beads-on-a-string cancer awareness tools and leaflets on breast cancer, and partner with LPGA superstars such as Cristie Kerr to raise the media profile of breast cancer.
- Since 2013, using funds from the Berjaya Cares Foundation, we have raised awareness for breast cancer in the “Be Frank: Outreach Programmes“.
- TAKE ACTION!
Run the “Be a Boob Buddy” Campaign in your office or your community by displaying information about breast cancer and encouraging your friends and relatives to come forward to screening mammograms through Cancer Research Malaysia’s “More than a Mammo” programme. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or +603 5639 1874 for more information.
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