Brunei joins global observation of ‘World Cancer Day’

National 3 minutes, 3 seconds


TODAY, the World Cancer Day is commemorated globally aimed at spreading awareness on early detection and prevention of cancer with the theme “Not Beyond Us”.

The annual obervance is an initiative of a non- government organisation, Union of International Cancer Control (UICC) founded in 1933 which aims are to save millions of preventable deaths each year, to raise awareness and education about cancer and to press individuals and governments to take action.

This year’s campaign articulate around four targets namely, choosing healthy lives, delivering early detection, achieving treatment for all and maximising quality of life.

In Brunei Darussalam, cancer is the number one killer for the past few years with more new cases diagnosed and more deaths.

According to a release obtained from The Brunei Cancer Centre (TBCC), it mentioned that many of the cancers are unfortunately diagnosed in the advanced stages.

Speaking to The Brunei Times yesterday, Dato Seri Laila Jasa Dr Babu Sukumaran, the Special Oncologist at TBCC said there is an increasing trend over the years on the disease.

“More cancers are being diagnosed and many patients are coming in with advanced stages. That is not good for us and the patient,” he said.

Dr Babu also said that patients tend to look for alternative treatments like supplements and carried away by the claims of “cure” who then seek late professional help.

“The fear of cancer among patients is one of the reasons for the late detection until they know they have no choice.

“They associate cancer with death and some people feel ashamed to even tell their own family or relatives,” said the oncologist.

Associate Professor Dr Kenneth YY Kok, Medical Director at TBCC, sharing the same sentiment, said that sometimes people do not recognize cancer symptoms.

“So it is something to do with awareness and we here at TBCC is trying to do something about it. We want to make people aware of certain symptoms that are danger or warning signs like weight loss, blood in stool or lump in breast,” he said.

Moreover, Dr Babu mentioned that many people think that cancer is an old age disease while young people tend to ignore cancer symptoms.

“We are getting a small group of younger people (diagnosed with cancer) and they tend to ignore symptoms because they think that they are fit, they (the symptoms) cannot be cancer,” he said adding that the youngest breast cancer patient is aged 18 years old.

He further said that in many cases, cancer is curable provided that the disease is in the early stage.

“You get early treatment and you can be cured. Detection is important while prevention is the other aspect we are trying to also emphasise,” said Dr Babu.

“Because potentially we look at the global message is that you can actually prevent nearly 30 to 50 per cent of cancers.”

By referring to Western countries, he said that although the cancer rate is increasing there but people are picking up cases in the early stage 1.

Asked on what can be learned from Western countries, he said: “Their awareness, as they are not shy to come forward to seek medical help.

“People (in the Sultanate) need to come forward… you come early for treatment, you are potentially treatable.”

According to TBCC, among the most common cancers diagnosed are such as colorectal, breast, lungs, stomach and nasopharynx.

At present, almost every week, two cases of colorectal and two cases of breast cancer are referred to TBCC, after surgery, or in about 20 to 30 per cent in advanced stages.

There were 779 cancers diagnosed in 2014 with 101 colon and rectum cancer cases as the leading case followed by 99 cases for breast cancer.

The Brunei Times