Breaking Barriers to Cancer Care Columbia Asia opens its first cancer center in Bukit Rimau

The Columbia Asia Group of Hospitals proudly announces the launch of their first cancer center in Bukit Rimau. With the opening of their new center, they also unveiled their latest effort to change the cancer-care landscape in Malaysia with the launch of the Breaking Barriers initiative, a holistic approach to cancer care that addresses three major gaps relating to this disease: cancer prevention, cancer patient navigation, and support for those living with cancer.
Dr. Chan Boon Kheng, Managing Director & Group CEO of Columbia Asia and Ms. Lee Hui Chuen, Regional General Manager of Columbia Asia hospitals at Bukit Rimau, Petaling Jaya, and Seremban unveiling the Breaking Barriers initiative at the launch of Columbia Asia Cancer Center.

According to the World Health Organization, 48,639 new cancer cases were recorded in Malaysia in 2020. The 2012 - 2016 Malaysia National Cancer Registry Report showed an 11% increase in new cancer cases and 30% more deaths from cancer when compared to the 2007-2011 report.1 This upward trend reveals a greater need for more access to quality cancer care. With the launch of its cancer center, Columbia Asia aims to address the three major cancer-related gaps, and increase cancer care access for all Malaysians.

“Cancer care requires a holistic and multidisciplinary approach. It is our hope that our new cancer center will make high-quality integrative cancer care more accessible,” said Dr. Chan Boon Kheng, Managing Director & Group CEO of Columbia Asia, at the launch of the new center. “Cancer is a life-changing diagnosis. It affects every part of your life: physically, mentally, and emotionally. We understand that cancer treatment needs to be more than just medical. By employing an integrative approach, we can offer our patients personalized treatment plans that combine clinical innovation and patient-centered care. We hope to deliver the best quality cancer treatment.”
(L-R) Dr. Rama Krishna Kumar Krishnamurthy, Consultant O&G cum Columbia Asia Hospital - Bukit Rimau Chief of Medical Services; Dr. Chan Boon Kheng, Managing Director & Group CEO of Columbia Asia; Dr. Habibah Abdul Halim, Consultant Internal Medicine Physician & Hematologist; Ms. Lee Hui Chuen, Regional General Manager of Columbia Asia hospitals at Bukit Rimau, Petaling Jaya, and Seremban; Dr. Jayendran Dharmaratnam, Consultant Clinical Oncologist cum Head of Columbia Asia Cancer Center; Dr. Kananathan Ratnavelu, Consultant Medical Oncologist at the launch of Columbia Asia Cancer Center.

The cancer center offers cancer screening & diagnostics, individualized treatment options, post-treatment care, a cancer rehabilitation program, palliative care, dietary consultation, multi-disciplinary specialty care, pain management, home care, patient group support, and clinical trials.

The center has been furnished with the equipment and a collaborative team of experts comprising consultants and oncologists who are supported by a radiotherapy team, a chemotherapy unit, a patient experience team, procedure specialists, oncology nurses, and a dietician.
Mohd Khairul Mohd Zambri, Radiotherapy Manager introducing the radiotherapy unit at Columbia Asia Cancer Center.

The radiotherapy unit is equipped with the most recent addition of a sophisticated linear accelerator machine, the Elekta Versa HD. This machine can deliver precise treatment to even the smallest tumors in previously untreatable areas, sparing the surrounding healthy tissues, thus reducing side effects.
The Chemotherapy Daycare unit provides various systemic therapies, including chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and cell-based therapy for solid hematological cancers in a modern space designed with comfort and care in mind. The consultants’ clinics are situated next to the unit for the convenience of our doctors to review patients and for patients to consult with doctors.

“We want more Malaysians to understand that a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. Each day, there are many options for preventative care, curative treatment, and improved quality of life for cancer patients and their families,” said Ms. Lee Hui Chuen, Regional General Manager of Columbia Asia hospitals at Bukit Rimau, Petaling Jaya, and Seremban. “We envision our new cancer center as the first step towards a shift in the way Malaysians think and talk about cancer. That is also why we are kicking off the Breaking Barriers initiative today.”

Breaking Barriers
is a three-step cancer care support initiative by Columbia Asia designed to address three major care gaps. The initiative seeks to do more for patients in terms of preventing cancer, helping them navigate cancer, and providing support and resources for those who live with cancer.

The first project under Breaking Barriers is the #ClockOut2CheckUp campaign. With the understanding that late detection is one of the largest gaps in cancer care, this campaign is designed to incentivize Malaysians to take control of their health and kickstart the habit of going for regular cancer screenings. Columbia Asia Hospital - Bukit Rimau chose to take the first steps themselves, offering all its employees the opportunity to go for a free cancer marker screening in exchange for a day off work. A total of 275 employees accepted and stepped forward for the initiative. Now, the hospital is offering 1,000 more screenings for Malaysian companies interested in joining the effort.

Columbia Asia believes that company culture can shape employees into becoming more productive, thus increasing company performance. As such, they are encouraging Malaysian companies to join in the spearheading of this cultural shift. The ClockOut2CheckUp Corporate Challenge begins now and run until October 31, 2022. Malaysian companies interested in signing up to participate may do so on the challenge microsite. The hospital will also be offering 200 cancer marker screenings to the public from October 1, 2022 onwards.

“The Breaking Barriers initiative championed by Columbia Asia Hospital - Bukit Rimau is a big step forward in changing the conversation around cancer,” said Dr. Kananathan Ratnavelu, Consultant Medical Oncologist. “The battle against cancer begins not at diagnosis but at prevention and early detection. One of the most common reasons we hear from patients who choose to delay screenings is they’re afraid of the results. By making regular cancer screenings easier to access and encouraging their frequency, this effort has the potential to help detect more cases sooner, so patients can make a fuller recovery.”

To continue the efforts to raise cancer awareness, Columbia Asia Hospital - Bukit Rimau is collaborating with non-governmental organizations like the Breast Cancer Welfare Association (BCWA) and CANSURVIVE. Additionally, as part of a Columbia Asia Hospital - Bukit Rimau CSR initiative, the center will offer special treatment packages to patients referred from government hospitals to relieve the government’s long waiting list of cancer patients awaiting treatment and to expedite treatment for cancer patients without delay.

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