Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among Malaysian women, with the percentage of cases detected late increasing each year.
In conjunction with Cervical Cancer Awareness month in January, Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC) is collaborating with ROSE Foundation (ROSE), a non-profit organisation to focus on eliminating cervical cancer through early detection advocacy in the country. SJ ECHO, a local community platform is aiding to spread the information amongst the targeted community and to drive a free do-it-yourself (DIY) cervical cancer screening programme.
Through the five-day ‘If Not Now, When? #endcervicalcancer’ programme, 300 Human Papillomavirus (HPV) PCR self-sampling swabs are being distributed to women in the Subang Jaya community. Five People’s Housing Project (PPR) flats located at PJS7, Angsana USJ1, Sri Tanjung USJ16, SS13, and SS19/7 are part of this outreach programme through the help of SJ ECHO.
Bryan Lin, Chief Executive Officer of SJMC said “Cervical cancer is often known as the ‘silent killer’, which develops slowly without any warning or symptoms. Our “If Not Now, When? #endcervicalcancer” programme aims to make a difference in society by making cervical screening more acceptable and accessible to women, especially those who may not be fully aware of the seriousness of this disease. As a healthcare provider, it is important for us to play our role to achieve a cervical cancer-free Malaysia and this means providing an opportunity for screening.”
“With this being our second screening in Subang Jaya, we want to raise awareness among women that cervical cancer is preventable. It is important for the community because we’re talking about the lives of women and their families,” shared YB Michelle Ng, Subang Jaya’s State Assemblywoman who also attended the program’s launch at Angsana USJ1.
SJMC set up mobile trucks in each of the participating areas for easy access; Malaysian women above the age of 30 who fit the eligibility criteria will be taught to carry out the test themselves. Using a simple swab, samples will be sent to the ROSE Laboratory for HPV PCR testing with the results communicated via SMS within three weeks.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), early intervention plays a pivotal part; however, participation in screening and preventive programmes continues to be low in Malaysia. ROSE was set up in response to WHO’s call to make cervical cancer a rare disease in the country.
Professor Dr. Woo Yin Ling, Founder and Trustee of ROSE Foundation said “Many women are not screening for cervical cancer regularly with two-thirds of cases presented in the late stage. Unlike the pap smear tests which are invasive and painful, Malaysian women can now be tested using ROSE’s signature and innovative cervical screening strategy called Program ROSE (Removing Obstacles to cervical ScrEening) that offers a simple self-swab, a quick, convenient, and effective approach.”
“SJMC’s mobile trucks are able to conduct the cervical cancer screening as in the “we go to you” approach. ROSE is grateful to be a part of this collaboration with SJMC together with SJ ECHO to ensure that women in Subang Jaya can benefit.”
Program ROSE was created especially for Malaysian women and employs a groundbreaking approach to cervical cancer screening. It integrates self-sampling, primary HPV testing and digital health platform using mobile technology, ensuring women who require follow-up are linked to care for treatment, if necessary. To-date, ROSE Foundation has successfully screened over 21,000 women throughout Malaysia.
According to SJ ECHO Managing Editor TH Teoh, the initiative was important as it acted as an early detection for cervical cancer. “Detecting it early can help prevent the cancer from spreading and save lives, especially for those who may not be aware or have access to screenings. Thanks to this collaboration, we can now offer this test to the community for free. Thank you SJMC and Rose Foundation for the pre-emptive efforts.”
WHO’s Cervical Cancer Elimination Strategy targets for 2030 include 90% of girls being fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by the age of 15, 70% of women screened with a high-performance test by 35 years of age and again by 45 years of age, and 90% of women diagnosed with the disease receiving treatment.