Arguably one of the world’s biggest killers, cancer has unfortunately made its way to people of all ages. Immediate treatment is advisable upon detecting the disease and there are many different treatments to choose from depending on the severity.
Alternative and complementary cancer treatments have been an option among some patients in the past few years. These methods include products, practices, and systems that are not part of mainstream medicine. Whether if it is effective or not, it really comes down to one’s own personal reference.
According to the News Straits Times, alternative treatments are highly popular among the Kelantanese community. Over half of the cancer patients in Kelantan reportedly believe in alternative treatments, such as homeopathy, taking herbal drinks and seeking help from a bomoh (traditional medicine practitioner).
Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital (HRPZ II) Endocrine and Breast Surgery division chief and senior consultant surgeon Datuk Dr Imi Sairi Ab Hadi said patients were more likely to trust alternative treatments.
Their trust in alternative treatments has strengthened due to the fear of consulting doctors, leading to 54 per cent of cancer patients in the state relying on alternative treatments. Only when the cancer reaches stage three or four will they seek for professional medical treatment, thus increasing the risk of death.
“They have an incorrect perception of hospital care and treatment. Only when the situation gets worse do they seek assistance from a hospital. When it’s at this stage, the risk of disease progression is high and the cancer could have spread further,” he said.
Besides alternative methods, some patients still hold their belief in myths, as told by family members and friends.
“One of the belief is that breast cancer patients should not expose their breasts to sharp objects, which can cause the cancer to spread.”
“There is also a belief that if you drink only soursop juice, herbal water and health products, you will be cured. Although this may be good for health, it cannot treat cancer,” he said.
Dr Imi Sairi said cancer patients should seek treatment and care from hospitals first, as they have the expertise and facilities, rather than enduring the pain by listening to family members and friends.
“As a medical practitioner, I do not prevent patients from seeking alternative treatments. It may boost a patient’s immune system, which is usually weakened when undergoing medical treatment. However, I fear patients will abandon their treatment at the hospital and rely on alternative methods,” he said.
He added that programmes such as roadshows and free mammogram services have been organised by HRPZ II, in collaboration with various parties, including non-governmental organisations to encourage people to seek treatment at hospitals.
Cancer is something not to be taken lightly. Hence, we encourage patients to seek professional medical treatment asap if detected.
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