In conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2022 which falls in October, pharmaceutical company Roche Malaysia, in partnership with The Asian Women (TAW) and Lembaga Penduduk dan Pembangunan Keluarga Negara (LPPKN), is encouraging women to be more aware about breast cancer care, to establish a future proof healthcare plan and to reimagine their time, health, and future.
HER TIME Matters is a multi-faceted breast cancer campaign which champions health empowerment, engagement and personal decision making. The goal is to inspire behavioural change among women and to encourage proactive management of their own health.
Conducted between September 2022 – January 2023, HER TIME Matters campaign, is a multifaceted approach to close the gap in 3 areas: Awareness, Health Empowerment and Inspiration with the aim to transform the landscape and mode of care of breast cancer in Malaysia. It will include a concerted online education programme, health talks, partnerships with insurance companies to look into women’s health policies and hospitals for screening and as checks, which includes Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur, Sunway Medical Centre at Sunway City and Beacon Hospital, well as sharing inspiring life journeys of cancer survivors and much more.
Sharing at the launch of the HER TIME Matters, Dr Ng Char Hong, Consultant Breast Surgeon at Sunway Medical Centre, Sunway City, “I can’t emphasise enough the importance of early screening to downstage breast cancer and for women to be apprised of the latest and innovative treatments that can result in better patient outcomes.
“The awareness on the need for consistent breast care is still very much lacking. The 2019 National Health Morbidity Survey highlighted the exceedingly low rate of breast cancer screening. 3 out of every 4 women over 40 in Malaysia have never had a mammogram done while 1 in 2 women do not practise breast self-examination1.
“There is much misconception, stigma and fears among women aside from other challenges in life that they face, trying to juggle home life and other responsibilities. However, being proactive to seek help, weighing in the options in a timely fashion and making a decision to treat while holistically caring for themselves at the same time can lend significant impact and offer better treatment outcomes,” he added.
Studies have shown that only a low proportion of women reported knowing the signs and symptoms (42.6%) or risk factors (16.5%) of breast cancer while only 17.8% report ever being screened for breast cancer. As for behavioural factors, most women (64.4%) reported shared decision making, while 13% of women reported that they make their own health decisions. For up to 21% of women, their health decisions are made by their family.
The lack of knowledge is also the most common barrier to help-seeking, followed by lack of motivation, such as emotional barriers (22.1%) and optimism (20.8%). Approximately 11% of patients report lack of opportunity to seek help, due to physical and social barriers.
Child care also posed a competing priority for some women who shared that they would not have time for breast checks. Some women were scared of being diagnosed with cancer, thought the screening is painful or are afraid of breast removal surgery and of losing hair due to the treatment.
Many rural Malaysian women also have inadequate understanding and awareness about breast cancer, were in denial, were misinformed about cancer, or didn’t think they were susceptible, so they weren’t interested in screening.
Through Roche’s ‘Her Time Matters’ campaign, they wish to empower women to take charge and ownership of their breast health – to be breast aware, to know what latest treatment options are available and to understand how important it is to have adequate insurance coverage.
Read also: How to Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer?