Gastric cancer rates declining
GASTRIC cancer rates are declining amongst Bruneians, according to a recent review of cancer registry data from 1986 to 2012.
The review, published as a research article in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention last year, revealed that rates had dropped from 17.1 per 100,000 of the population in 1986 to 1990 to 12.5 per 100,000 in the period between 2006 and 2010.
The study attributes the identification of Helicobacter Pylori – a bacterial infection with a known association with gastric cancer – as the main reason for decline, which can be treated with antibiotics.
“Widespread practice of test and treat (of H. Pylori) has led to the declining prevalence of this infection, including in Brunei.”
Those of Chinese ethnicity are almost twice as likely as Malays to get the disease, and are also more prone to H. Pylori infections; consistent with patterns reported in neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore.
Men in the country are also more likely to have the cancer, with the study claiming that smoking, alcohol consumption and a diet high in salted fish and salted vegetables are risk factors.
Increasing public awareness on these risk factors and treating H. Plyori are the most effective interventions at the moment – while mass screening, the authors suggest, will not be cost effective in Brunei given the lower incidence.
“Selective screening such as following up patients with documented gastric intestinal atrophy (shrinking) or abnormal change in tissue (metaplasia) may be more cost-effective,” the study said.
Four professionals from Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital’s Department of Medicine, Department of Pathology and the Department of Surgery produced the research article.
The Brunei Times