THERE are only 26 oncologists at government hospitals to handle the 30,000 cancer patients diagnosed annually.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said these numbers only represented those who sought treatment at government hospitals.
“The number of patients are expected to rise in the future,” he said yesterday.
He said about half of the 30,000 patients were suffering from stage three or four cancers.
“For every stage three or four cancer patient that we know about, we believe there is one who goes unreported,” he said.
Earlier, in an answer to Teresa Kok (DAP-Seputeh), Hilmi cited breast, lung and colorectal cancer as the three main forms affecting Malaysians.
“Cancer is the cause of the 4th highest number of deaths in the country, or 13% of all deaths here,” he added.
Hilmi said the oncologists were serving in the Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor, Sarawak, Sarikei and Likas hospitals, and the National Cancer Institute.
On efforts to increase the number of specialists, he said that 1,000 scholarships were offered for various medical disciplines annually.
“Of the 1,000, only 500 pass to become doctors serving with the Government. But 100 of those doctors will usually resign to go into private practice,” he added.