Younger women fall prey to breast cancer

National 2 minutes, 2 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

MORE breast cancer cases have been detected in younger women.

An 18-year-old A Level student died from the disease recently, according to the special oncologist of Brunei Cancer Centre yesterday.

Dato Seri Laila Jasa Dr Babu Sukumaran said it is a concern that more young people have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Compared to the Western countries where those aged above 60 are at high risk, he said the age group is lower in Brunei where those at risk are below 40.

He said this may be due to a common risk factor, obesity and as a result of poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle.

“This is a problem because young people think they can’t get breast cancer. Our recommended age for breast self-examination is 20 years and below but younger people can potentially get it as well.”

According to the centre’s statistics, 74 people were treated for breast cancer last year, down from 81 the previous year.

Medical Director of Brunei Cancer Centre Associate Professor Kenneth Kok said a self-examination is encouraged every month for women to be familiar with their breasts.

“It is also to ensure women will notice if there are any irregularity. We want women to examine themselves before it’s too late.”

Dr Babu further said the effects of breast cancer on men are more dangerous as they have little breast tissue, allowing the tumour to spread faster.

“Over the past few years, there have been three cases of which two have passed away. Men usually don’t think they can get breast cancer or they don’t think it’s breast cancer.”

Embarrassment could be one of the reasons the number of reported male breast cancer cases is small, compared to breast cancer cases among women.

Factors that can influence the chance of men getting breast cancer include family history, high levels of oestrogen, liver diseases and Klinefelter’s syndrome (chromosal abnormality).

“Normally in the body, the liver metabolises and gets rid of the oestrogen. When the liver can’t get rid of the oestrogen, the oestrogen level remains high and patients with liver diseases have a high risk of getting the diseases.”

A majority (70 to 80 per cent) of breast cancer cases in Brunei are sporadic cases — a disease that appears only occasionally in random cases).

“We are trying to encourage more people to come in, get checked and get early treatment because it can increase their chances of surviving.”

The Brunei Times