Adapting the Australian System: Is an Organised Screening Program Feasible in Malaysia? - An Overview of the Cervical Cancer Screening in Both Countries

  • Abdul Rashid, Rima Marhayu (Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya) ;
  • Dahlui, Maznah (Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya) ;
  • Mohamed, Majdah (Family Health Development Division, Ministry of Health Malaysia) ;
  • Gertig, Dorota (Victoria Cervical Cancer Registry)
  • Published : 2013.03.30


Cervical cancer is the third most common form of cancer that strikes Malaysian women. The National Cancer Registry in 2006 and 2007 reported that the age standardized incidence (ASR) of cervical cancer was 12.2 and 7.8 per 100,000 women, respectively. The cumulative risk of developing cervical cancer for a Malaysian woman is 0.9 for 74 years. Among all ethnic groups, the Chinese experienced the highest incidence rate in 2006, followed by Indians and Malays. The percentage cervical cancer detected at stage I and II was 55% (stage I: 21.0%, stage II: 34.0%, stage III: 26.0% and stage IV: 19.0%). Data from Ministry of Health Malaysia (2006) showed a 58.9% estimated coverage of pap smear screening conducted among those aged 30-49 years. Only a small percentage of women aged 50-59 and 50-65 years old were screened, 14% and 13.8% coverage, respectively. Incidence of cervical cancer was highest (71.6%) among those in the 60-65 age group (MOH, 2003). Currently, there is no organized population-based screening program available for the whole of Malaysia. A pilot project was initiated in 2006, to move from opportunistic cervical screening of women who attend antenatal and postnatal visits to a population based approach to be able to monitor the women through the screening pathway and encourage women at highest risk to be screened. The project was modelled on the screening program in Australia with some modifications to suit the Malaysian setting. Substantial challenges have been identified, particularly in relation to information systems for call and recall of women, as well as laboratory reporting and quality assurance. A cost-effective locally-specific approach to organized screening, that will provide the infrastructure for increasing participation in the cervical cancer screening program, is urgently required.


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