Early cancer detection rate very low in Brunei

National 2 minutes, 19 seconds


THERE is at least a 95 per cent cure rate for most cancer cases if they are detected very early, said a health professional.

Speaking at a World Cancer Day 2016 event held recently at the Health Promotion Centre, Dato Seri Laila Jasa Dr Babu Sukumaran, a specialist oncologist at The Brunei Cancer Centre (TBCC), said it was important for the public to know that prevention and early detection is better than cure when it comes to the disease.

“In Western countries, cancer cases are increasing by a lot, but they’re picking up the cases very early; (for example) prostate cancers are usually picked up early.

“For most of them, 95 per cent of them are cured because they go for regular screenings and early detection,” said Dato Dr Babu.

He said that in the Bruneian setting, cancer cases were still being picked up in more advanced stages.

“We always divide cancer into Stages One, Two, Three and Four. The best would be for us to pick it up at Stage One or even what we call a ‘Stage Zero’.

“Then, there’s almost a 98 per cent chance of cure,” he said.

The specialist oncologist added that the cure rate drops when cancer cases are picked up at Stages Three and Four.

“In fact, in some Stage Four cases, we cannot even cure them, we can only prolong life,” he said.

Dato Dr Babu added that cancer was “going up” and that it has been the “number one killer” in Brunei for the past seven or eight years.

He urged the public to always seek medical opinion about any abnormalities related to their body, including any new lumps or swellings, sores or ulcers that were not healing, or changes in the size, shape or colour of moles, even if they were not painful.

Other “red-flag signs and symptoms” of cancer can include coughs, voice hoarseness and difficulty in swallowing which persist for more than four weeks, changes in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss, difficulty in passing urine, vaginal bleeding after menopause or in between periods and blood in the urine or bowels.

“The problem with most patients is perhaps they may excrete blood one day and none the next day, so they think nothing is wrong and ignore it.

“If it comes again, the patient should seek attention and have a check,” he said.

Dato Dr Babu also recommended that patients seek a second opinion from another doctor if such abnormal signs or symptoms continue, even after seeing one doctor.

“In Brunei, at least medical facilities are easily accessible. We don’t have to travel a hundred miles to go see a doctor.

“So don’t ignore (these signs and symptoms) and miss the chance to seek treatment,” he said.

The Brunei Times