Curbing Breast Cancer
Her World Malaysia|August 2018

If a tool could help us identify those who are prone to developing breast cancer, it would surely save more lives. Eena Houzyama speaks to Dr Weang Kee Ho, a L’Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Rising Talent, to find out more about her research.

Eena Houzyama

Fourteen years ago, my late grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite having the affected breast removed, she passed away four years later as the cancer had spread. It makes me wonder: had she confided in her children earlier, and if the cancer could have been detected during one of her health check-ups, would she have had a chance to beat it before it took over her body? So when I had the opportunity to speak to Dr Weang Kee Ho, who represented Malaysia in the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme, about her research in targeted screening for breast cancer, I was eager to fully understand her mission and vision.

COULD YOU EXPLAIN TO US, IN LAYMAN TERMS, WHAT YOUR RESEARCH IS ALL ABOUT?

Dr Ho: “We are trying to build a tool based on genetic statistical models that can help us predict a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. And this is important in developing countries such as Malaysia, because up to 50 per cent of women diagnosed with breast cancer are dying from the disease due to late-stage presentation. Our aim is to use this tool to find these women before the disease becomes fatal.”

HOW DO WE GET WOMEN TO GO FOR SCREENINGS? AND AREN’T THESE TESTS COSTLY?

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