The Impact of Cancer on Malaysia

Cancer is the fourth biggest killer in Malaysia, the Health Ministry has said in its latest report called the Malaysian Study on Cancer Survival (MySCan).

It was revealed that cancer is responsible for 12.6 per cent of all deaths in government hospital — but the rate was more than doubled in private hospitals, at 26.7 per cent.

In addition, there are approximately 37,000 newly-diagnosed cases of cancer every year, and the number is estimated to rise to more than 55,000 cases by 2030.

Back in 2016, the Health Ministry had listed the top three principal causes of deaths in public hospitals as circulatory system diseases, respiratory system diseases, and several infectious and parasitic diseases.

In 2018, there were 43,837 new cases, 26,395 deaths, and roughly 106,000 people living with the disease.  This is expected to increase in the near future, attributable to the high prevalence of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) risk factors and an aging population. The number one cancer is breast cancer, with 7,593 new cases followed by lung cancer with 4,686 new cases. An estimated, 60 per cent of cancer prognosis among patients in Malaysia is only detected at later stages of the dreaded disease.

Through proper education cancer can be prevented, life expectancy can be increased, and quality of life both during and after treatment can be improved exponentially. The Cancer Exercise Training Institute (CETI), a United States-based organization, has trained over 10,000 health and fitness professionals to become Cancer Exercise Specialists since 2004.  CETI and it’s regional affiliates are bringing the Cancer Exercise Specialist Advanced Qualification training to New Zealand and Australia in  2019. 

Through the comprehensive training health and fitness professionals seeking to attain a higher level of mastery and work with cancer patients during and after cancer surgery and treatment and into survivorship. Participants will expand their skills as a CES and gain a complete understanding of the entire cancer process from diagnosis and treatment to reconstruction and survivorship. The unique and individualized programming will help to improve the patient’s ability to cope with the mental and physical stress following cancer diagnosis and treatment. The comprehensive programming covers 26 types of cancer, as well as pediatrics, with special emphasis on breast cancer and breast reconstruction. 

“The Cancer Exercise Specialist is to CANCER what Cardiac Rehab. is to the HEART PATIENT.” – Andrea Leonard

Regular continuing education is required to maintain the high-standard of expertise required to work with this population.

The benefits of exercise during treatment include:

  1. Increased energy
  2. Improved treatment tolerance
  3. Decrease in pain
  4. Decrease in depression
  5. Better sleep
  6. Improved self-esteem/self-confidence
  7. Prevent weight gain and obesity
  8. Prevent.manage lymphedema
  9. Prevent cancer cachexia 
  10. Maintain independence
  11. Improved balance and strength
  12. Makes treatment more effective at destroying cancer cells

The benefits of exercise during recovery include:

  1. Increased range of motion
  2. Correct muscle imbalances that lead to pain and degeneration
  3. Increased energy
  4. Increased stamina
  5. Increases in strength and cardiovascular endurance
  6. Prevent osteoporosis, diabetes, lymphedema, future cancer, and damage to the heart and lungs 
  7. Decrease body fat and increase lean muscle mass
  8. Improve balance and fall prevention
  9. Improved self-esteem/self-confidence

Based on the tremendous amount of evidence to support the aforementioned lists, it is mind-boggling that so few cancer patients are told to exercise. For those who are given the green light to exercise, the big problem is not knowing where to start, how to safely progress, and how to prevent many of the complications associated with cancer treatment.

By training more allied health professionals worldwide, CETI is creating a global resource for medical professionals to be able to confidently refer their patients. 

“Cancer strips you of everything. Your hair, your body parts, your dignity, your self-confidence, your strength and stamina, your finances, sometimes even your job or spouse. A Cancer Exercise Specialist can help the cancer patient regain control of their life and their body at a time that the patient feels they have no control.” – Andrea Leonard

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Cancer Exercise Specialist in Australia or New Zealand, or would like to learn about bringing CETI’s training to your country, please contact


  1. World Health Organization, 2018 Fact Sheet,
  2. Cancer Index, Malaysia,
  3. New Straits Times, 2-4-2019,