University of Malaya, Malaysia
Dr. Cheng-Har Yip was born in the small Malaysian town of Kampar. The first in her family to graduate from college, Dr. Yip was conferred with a medical degree from the University of Malaya in 1981 and began her medical training at a time when only a handful of women in her country were surgeons. After becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (Glasgow) in 1985, Dr. Yip pursued an academic career in the department of surgery, faculty of medicine, University of Malaya, from which she retired as professor in September 2012.
Dr. Yip was first trained in general and pediatric surgery but then super-specialized in breast surgery, realizing that female patients with breast problems often prefer to see a woman surgeon. After breast surgery training in the UK, Dr. Yip created one of the first breast clinics in Malaysia at the University of Malaya Medical Centre, which now treats more than 300 new breast cancer cases each year. At the beginning, neither medical oncology nor palliative care services were available, so Dr. Yip learned to give her own chemotherapy and provide palliation, simultaneously running the hospital’s general surgery services. Cheng-Har Yip was a pioneer who acquired skills and started programs because her patients needed them.
Dr. Yip chairs multiple breast cancer guideline committees, was president of the Association of University Surgeons of Asia and the Asia Pacific Organization for Cancer Prevention, and is a council member of Breast Surgery International. She became the first woman president of the College of Surgeons of Malaysia in 2010. She has consulted for the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Cancer Control Conference, and the Breast Health Global Initiative. In 2009, Dr. Yip was awarded both the Union for International Cancer Control 2009 Reach to Recovery International Health Professional Award and the Malaysian Greatest Women of Our Times award. In 2012, she was awarded the title of “Dato” from the Sultan of Perak in her home state. Most recently, in August 2013, Dr. Yip became president-elect of Breast Surgery International during the organization’s annual meeting in Helsinki, Finland.