Alliianz Malaysia Berhad recently organised a cancer forum called ‘Reimagine Your Medical Choices’ at Kuala Lumpur. The forum was held in view of the rising statistics of cancer cases annually in Malaysia. According to the Malaysian Health Ministry‘s study on cancer survival last year, there are approximately 37,000 newly-diagnosed cancer cases annually. By the year 2030, the statistic is expected to increase to 55,000 newly-diagnosed cancer cases per year.
The event was bolstered by speeches from Allianz’s medical partners namely Further, Beacon Hospital, Managed care, DoctorOnCall, and DietChain.The goal of the forum was to create awareness on the viable cancer treatment options, protection from the disease and care available for cancer patients.
Allianz Malaysia’s Chief Executive Officer, Zakri Khir, said, “As insurers, we hope to continue our responsibility in contributing to the Malaysian healthcare scene. Having this forum is an extension of our commitment towards positive changes in cancer care in Malaysia.”
One of the guest speakers at the event was Dr Azura Rozila Ahmad, Senior Consultant Medical Oncologist of Beacon Hospital, Petaling Jaya,who gave a speech on ‘Introduction of Genomic Testing and Precision Medicine’. Dr Azura remarked that genomics is the study of genetics instructions of individuals in the areas of the genome (coding and non-coding) associated with health and disease.
Precision medicine is an approach to patient care that allows doctors to select treatments that are most likely to help patients based on a genetic understanding of their disease. Some examples of precision medicine are known as molecularly targeted drugs, molecular therapies, actionable targets, and druggable mutation.
She further explained that, “We are moving away from the ‘one-size fits all’ approach to diagnosis and treatment of cancer. No two patients are alike.” Cancer medicine has evolved from a ‘one-size fits all’ approach, to stratified medicine approach, and then towards precision medicine.
Stratification of medicine is where patients are grouped by disease, subtypes, demographics, clinical features, and biomarkers, while precision medicine features a personalisation of medicine where the individual preferences, clinical features, medication history, environment, behaviours and habits, and biomarkers are taken into considerations.
The goal of precision medicine is to find the most effective treatment while preventing unnecessary treatment that is less likely to work. This means unnecessary side effects are avoided as well. It aims to understand cancer resistance and develop therapies that target specific tumour cells or cellular pathways. Precision medicine identifies patients who are most likely to respond to a particular cancer therapy.