‘Cancer patients in Brunei are younger’

National 2 minutes, 11 seconds


WOMEN diagnosed with breast cancer in Brunei are younger compared to breast cancer patients from Western countries, according to an oncology specialist at the National Cancer Centre.

Speaking during the Female Day event at the Brunei Shell Recreational Club (BSRC) in Seria, Dato Seri Laila Jasa Dr Babu Sukumaran told The Brunei Times yesterday that the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer in Brunei are aged between 40 to 50 years old.

"Most breast cancer patients in Western countries are diagnosed at 50 years of age and above. In Brunei, the patients are 10 years younger on average," he said.

The oncology specialist noted that the statistics are also similar for cervical cancer patients. He pointed out that women outside the majority age groups are also susceptible to female cancers. "It's a worrying trend," he said.

Dato Dr Babu explained that a possible aspect behind the increasing number of younger women affected with female cancers is due to the health-conscious mindset of society.

"People are becoming more aware about cancer and are coming forward for treatment. So, naturally we are picking up more cancer patients. Previously, people didn't bother to seek medical treatment and would die from cancer," he commented.

He further stated that one third of female cancers are preventable through health measures, such as a healthy diet and lifestyle.

"Cancer of the uterus and colon are related to high fat and meat intake. A balanced diet would help women to prevent getting female cancers related to unhealthy food habits. Another prevention is exercise. Maintaining a healthy body weight reduces your risk of getting breast cancer," he said.

Smoking, however, is the leading cause of cancer among women in Brunei. He noted that smoking is the biggest factor in preventing female cancers, such as cervix and lung disease.

Aside from preventative health measures, the oncology specialist explained that another third of female cancers could be avoided with early detection through regular annual check-ups. "We are trying to make people aware that symptoms shouldn't be ignored," he urged.

According to Dato Dr Babu, the Ministry of Health (MoH) have stepped up their efforts to reduce the number of cancer cases in Brunei.

"They have tried to make smoking more difficult through means such as larger health warnings on cigarette packaging; the costs of cigarettes have gone up; smoke-free zones have been extended to places such as hospitals and airports," he said.

The ministry have also been actively promoting health awareness through various government bodies, such as the Health Promotion Centre and Women Health Clinic Services.

The Brunei Times