Overview of colorectal cancer screening programme in Malaysia

Colorectal Cancer

Arunah C, et al. Med J Malaysia 2020.


INTRODUCTION: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cancer in Malaysia with 65% detected at stage III and IV. Despite the increasing incidence of cancers including CRC, Malaysia has yet to implement populationbased screening for cancers. The objective of this paper is to review the strategic planning and implementation of the CRC screening program in Malaysia.

METHODS: A desk review was conducted from August to October in 2018, to examine, review and describe the historical perspective, strategic planning and implementation of the current CRC screening program in Malaysia.

RESULTS: The main policy documents related to CRC screening are the National Strategic Plan for Cancer Control Programme 2016-2020, the Clinical Practice Guideline for Management of Colorectal Carcinoma 2017, and the Implementation Guideline for CRC Screening in Malaysia 2014. Several papers have been published on the epidemiology of CRC in Malaysia. Between 2014 and 2018, 127,957 men and women were screened using immunochemical Faecal Occult Blood Test (iFOBT); 9.3% had positive iFOBT results and were referred for colonoscopy. For those who underwent colonoscopy, CRC detection rate was 4.1% and 13.9% for pre-malignant conditions. Barriers were identified along the continuum of screening process, including patient, provider, and system factors.

CONCLUSION: Although population-level organised screening programmes are preferable to opportunistic screening, the CRC programme in Malaysia was tailored to meet the needs of the population based on available existing resources. A well-mapped budget for the entire screening programme continuum, a strong partnership between stakeholders and an opportunistic screening strategy is crucial to address the rising incidence of CRC.