Cancer Statisitcs, Types & Treatment : Gleneagles Hospital

Common Cancer in Malaysia

Cancer on the Rise in Malaysia

Here are some important statistics:

  • 48,639 new cancer cases were reported in Malaysia in 2020
  • Cancer incidence in Malaysia is predicted to double by 2040
  • Approximately 1 in 10 people in Malaysia will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime
  • Lifetime risk of getting cancer in Malaysia is 1 in 10 males and 1 in 9 females. Lifetime risk refers to the probability of a person developing cancer before the age of 75 years in the absence of other causes of death

Five Most Common Cancers in Malaysia

Cancer can begin anywhere in the body, but the most common places for cancer to start are the breast, colorectum, lung, nasopharynx, and liver.

The TOP five most common cancers in Malaysia are:

  1. Breast cancer
  2. Colorectal (colon) cancer
  3. Lung cancer
  4. Nasopharyngeal cancer (one of the head & neck cancers)
  5. Liver cancer

For detailed information regarding signs and symptoms of each cancer, please refer to the individual cancer articles available here.

Five Most Frequent Cancers by Gender in Malaysia

  • Lung (17%)
  • Colorectal (15.4%)
  • Prostate (9.3%)
  • Nasopharynx (7.4%)
  • Liver (6.7%)
  • Breast (32.9%)
  • Colorectal (11.9%)
  • Ovary (7.2%)
  • Cervix uteri (6.8%)
  • Corpus uteri (5.5%)

Fast Facts on the Top 5 Cancers in Malaysia

Breast, colorectal, lung, nasopharyngeal and liver cancers make up half of the reported cancers in Malaysia, but they are still diagnosed late.

  • Most common cancer among females
  • Higher occurrence after the age of 50
  • Almost half (47.9%) are diagnosed at late stage (Stage 3 & 4)
Colorectal (Colon)
  • Increased rates seen in those between 55 and 64 years old
  • 72.4% are diagnosed at late stage (Stage 3 & 4)
  • Higher incidence rates recently seen in the younger age group (35 to 64 years old)
  • 73.1% are diagnosed at late stage (Stage 3 & 4)
Lung, trachea, bronchus
  • Highest occurrence in those age 60-74 years old
  • 93.5% diagnosed at late stage (Stage 3 & 4)
  • 92.3% diagnosed at late stage (Stage 3 & 4)
  • Lifetime risk is 1 in 175 for all males
  • 69.3% diagnosed at late stage (Stage 3 & 4) in males
  • Lifetime risk is 1 in 482 for all females
  • Lifetime risk is 1 in 164 for all males
  • 85.5% diagnosed at late stage (Stage 3 & 4) in males
  • Lifetime risk is 1 in 452 for all females

Cancer is Not a Death Sentence

Cancer is commonly associated with incurability, pain, suffering and death. A diagnosis of cancer often carries with it a greater fear of death than many other diseases. When diagnosed with cancer, a person may have questions about how serious their cancer is and if they will survive it. The estimate of how a disease will affect you is called prognosis.

There are many factors that affect your prognosis, such as:

  • Type of cancer and location in your body
  • Cancer stage (size of the tumour and if it has spread to other parts of your body)
  • Cancer grade (how abnormal the cells are)
  • Certain characteristics of the cancer cells
  • Your age
  • Your health status
  • Your response to cancer treatment

One of the main determinants of cancer survival is the stage of cancer at diagnosis.

Survival by cancer type and stage of diagnosis

CancerEarly stage (Stage 1)Late stage (Stage 4)
Female breast87.5%23.3%
Lung, trachea and bronchus37.1%6.3%

There have been many developments in the field of cancer treatment in recent years. For most patients, there is usually something that can be done to arrest or even cure the disease. In addition to improved efficacy of treatment, progress has been made to provide treatment options that are more efficient, easier to administer, accessible and cause less side effects. Many of these advancements have brought about better outcomes for cancer patients, thus making cancer a treatable disease, and no longer a death sentence.

Make an appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals

If you experience any signs and symptoms of cancer or would like to be screened for cancer, get in touch with us to find out more about our Oncology Services at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.

Gleneagles Hospital works with oncologists to assist patients through cancer treatment. The caring and multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals are available for consultation and to provide the best care.


  1. World Health Organization. Malaysia fact sheet. Available at Accessed on 24 August 2022.
  2. Schliemann D, Ismail R, Donnelly M, Cardwell CR and Su TT. Cancer symptom and risk factor awareness in Malaysia: findings from a nationwide cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health 2020;20:464.
  3. National Cancer Institute, Ministry of Health Malaysia. Summary of Malaysia National Cancer Registry Report 2012-2016. Published in 2019.
  4. Department of Statistics Malaysia. Statistics on causes of death, Malaysia, 2021. Available at,Ischaemic%20heart%20diseases%20remained%20as%20the%20principal%20causes%20of%20death,bronchus%20and%20lung%20(2.5%25). Accessed on 1 September 2022.
  5. National Cancer Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Understanding cancer prognosis. Available at,cells%20look%20under%20a%20microscope. Accessed on 1 September 2022.
  6. National Cancer Institute, Ministry of Health Malaysia. Malaysian Study on Cancer Survival (MySCan). 2018. ISBN: 978-967-16142-0-4.
Gleneagles Hospital Kota Kinabalu
Ambulance / Emergency
+6088 518 911
Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur
Ambulance / Emergency
+603 4141 3018
Gleneagles Hospital Penang
Ambulance / Emergency
+604 222 9199
Gleneagles Hospital Medini Johor
Ambulance / Emergency
+607 560 1111
Select a hospital
Click to know more!