LCSM partners NCSM & Pfizer to improve health literacy on lung cancer
LCNM introduces Malaysia’s first-ever digital lung cancer patient handbook that was developed with NCSM and supported by Pfizer, to provide an up-to-date, comprehensive yet accessible guide for patients and their loved ones.
• Approximately 4 in 5 survey respondents feel a lung cancer patient may have difficulty discussing their condition or feel lost and worried upon learning their diagnosis
• 78% of survey respondents believe that affordability is the main barrier preventing patients from seeking effective medical treatment. Many also think that advanced lung cancer is untreatable1
• The #KeepBreathing campaign by LCNM and Pfizer continues its efforts to improve the public’s understanding of lung cancer so that anyone impacted by lung cancer is empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action, and supported by the community
KUALA LUMPUR, 1 November 2021 – The Lung Cancer Network Malaysia (LCNM) and the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM), supported by Pfizer, today announced the launch of Malaysia’s first-ever digital lung cancer patient handbook to empower society with the knowledge to recognise early warning signs and symptoms, make informed choices as well as counter stigma and misconceptions about the disease.
Launched in conjunction with Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November, the patient handbook was developed as a digital resource to improve health literacy on lung cancer among Malaysians as well as to facilitate better communication between patients and their healthcare providers. Available in Bahasa Malaysia, English, and Chinese, the patient handbook includes easy-to-understand information about lung cancer with illustrations to enhance comprehension and recall.
“A diagnosis of lung cancer is often unexpected and overwhelming. Furthermore, the vast volume of information available on the internet and social media these days can be confusing, daunting, and even fake. Based on a survey we recently conducted, 88% of survey respondents think a lung cancer patient may have difficulty discussing their condition or feel lost and worried upon learning their diagnosis1,” said Dr Anand Sachithanandan, President of Lung Cancer Network Malaysia & Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon.
“To that end, we hope this handbook will serve as a practical, easy-to-use guide for anyone with a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of lung cancer. It provides comprehensive information in a clear and concise manner to help patients and their loved ones better navigate this cancer ‘journey’ of screening, diagnosis, staging, treatment and surveillance,” added Dr Anand Sachithanandan.
The handbook addresses common questions, misconceptions and concerns people often have upon diagnosis. The treatment landscape for lung cancer is rapidly changing, for the better. Optimal outcomes are often best achieved with a combination of different therapies including surgery. We hope this guide will help demystify the disease and empower patients to make informed and appropriate choices on their journey, with guidance from their doctor,” said Dr Anand Sachithanandan.
Echoing the sentiment, Dr Murallitharan M., Managing Director of National Cancer Society Malaysia commented that the patient handbook was also developed to help patients and their loved ones communicate with their healthcare providers. “At NCSM, we understand that patients need a supportive relationship with their physician who is attentive to their needs and whom they can trust. This patient handbook serves as a tool to help facilitate better patient-physician conversations and shared decision-making. A well-informed patient can actively participate in the decision-making process about their care, and better articulate information on their disease, care and support, which is key to patient-centred care and better patient outcomes.”
Assessing and addressing knowledge gaps about lung cancer in Malaysia
In addition to the patient handbook, the #KeepBreathing campaign by LCNM and Pfizer continues its efforts in closing the knowledge gap about lung cancer and rally Malaysians to change the way we discuss the disease, humanise the experience and ultimately, reduce lung cancer stigma.
An online survey was conducted by LCNM in September 2021 to examine the health literacy level among Malaysians specifically on their knowledge about lung cancer, behavioural patterns concerning healthcare choices, and their perceptions of the disease. The survey was supported by Pfizer Malaysia.
While smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer, it also affects people who have never smoked , with studies highlighting an increasing trend of lung cancer among non-smokers .
About 85% of survey respondents are also unaware of the significant progress made in improving the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer, wrongly assuming that an advanced lung cancer diagnosis is associated with bleak prospects of survival or quality of life1. This is a troubling awareness gap amidst the declining rate of lung cancer screening and treatment due to COVID-19, indicating delayed diagnosis and treatment , .
“We undertook this survey to understand and address gaps in the lung cancer dialogue across a spectrum of respondents. The survey yielded results that not only help us realise where the misconceptions are, but also help point us to what needs to be done. Raising public awareness that lung cancer can strike people who have never smoked, and former smokers who quit many years ago challenges negative stereotypes, and shifts blame away from the patient,” said Dr Tho Lye Mun, Vice President of LCNM & Clinical Oncologist at the #KeepBreathing virtual media event.
The survey also discovered that doctors remain the primary or most trusted source of medical information1. Dr Tho emphasised that lung cancer patients have more treatment options these days and a far greater chance of survival when detected early . Innovations in lung cancer treatments mean people may live longer and with better quality of lives, even when their disease is advanced .
“It is also important to draw public attention to new advances in research and treatment to bring messages of hope and survival to the lung cancer community. Notably, many lung cancer patients continue to live well after their diagnosis owing to medical advances. One of the most exciting advances in lung cancer research is the development of new targeted therapies. These are medicines directed to specific mutations that occur in the DNA of the tumour that make the cancer grow. Before, we used to treat lung cancer just as one disease. Now we are breaking it into different subgroups and coming up with different medications that work well,” added Dr Tho.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide and the third most common cancer in Malaysia . Almost 95% of lung cancer patients are diagnosed with stage III or IV disease , further reinforcing the importance of lung cancer screening and timely treatment to avoid late-stage presentation of cases. A study has shown an increase in lung cancer death rates along with a decrease in diagnosis due to the COVID-19 pandemic10 .
“In line with our mission to improve the lives of cancer patients with innovative therapies and breakthroughs for cancer care , we are focused on supporting the needs of all who are impacted by cancer. Our commitment to delivering patient-centric solutions extend to partnering key stakeholders to develop educational, emotional, and psychosocial resources to improve patients’ lives,” said Ms Luksanawan Thangpaibool, Country Manager, Pfizer Malaysia & Brunei.
“Today, we are proud to support LCNM and NCSM in launching Malaysia’s first lung cancer patient handbook. We hope that this meaningful resource can empower more Malaysians with the knowledge to make informed decisions, as well as take control of their lung cancer journey,” added Ms Luksanawan Thangpaibool.
To download a copy of the lung cancer patient handbook, please visit https://www.lungcancer.net.my/
About Lung Cancer Network Malaysia
Lung Cancer Network Malaysia (LCNM) is a non-commercial not-for-profit, national level disease-centric non-governmental organisation (NGO) dedicated solely and exclusively to addressing all aspects and all stages of lung cancer here in Malaysia including preventative strategies, screening of high risk individuals, diagnosis, staging and treatment with both a curative and palliative intent. Our multi-disciplinary network includes highly trained medical specialists (from the public and private healthcare sectors) and allied healthcare professionals including dietitians, pharmacists, physiotherapists and psychologists. LCNM seeks to improve outcomes through advocacy, education and awareness for both the Malaysian public and primary care (general practice) doctors. We aim to promote evidence based scientific recommendations in an unbiased and easily understood manner to help patients & their families, doctors and other caregivers better navigate their treatment journey. For more information about LCNM, please visit https://lungcancer.net.my/ and follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for regular updates.
About National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM)
Established in 1966, National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) is the first not-for-profit cancer organisation in Malaysia that provides education, care and support services for people affected by cancer. Over the past 55 years, NCSM has provided holistic cancer support to patients and caregivers in understanding and dealing with cancer in various phases, through its Cancer and Health Screening Clinic, Nuclear Medicine Centre, Resource and Wellness Centre, the Adults’ Home of Hope and Children’s Home of Hope. For Cancer Information and Support, please call 1-800-88-1000, email email@example.com or visit www.cancer.org.my.
Pfizer Inc.: Breakthroughs that change patients' lives
At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of health care products, including innovative medicines and vaccines. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world's premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 170 years, we have worked to make a difference for all who rely on us.