Brunei cancer toll rising due to ageing population

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CANCER deaths have increased in the past five years due to a rising ageing population, said the minister of health yesterday.

Speaking during the meeting yesterday of the 12th Session of the Legislative Council, Yang Berhormat Dato Paduka Dr Hj Zulkarnain Hj Hanafi said cancer has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in the country.

“One of the reasons why our prevalence of cancer is increasing is that, when the population of the country is ageing, the risk of contracting cancer will also increase,” he said. “As we grow old, our immune system weakens and the risk of getting cancer is higher.”

He added that more sophisticated methods of cancer detection and higher public awareness of the disease has led to more people coming forward.

YB Dato Hj Zulkarnain was responding to a question from LegCo member YB Hj Awang Ahmad Morshidi Pehin Orang Kaya Digadong Seri Diraja Dato Laila Utama Hj Awang Abdul Rahman, who asked why Brunei was seeing a higher prevalence of cancer.

In 2014, Brunei recorded 300 deaths from cancer, compared to 295 in 2013 and 280 in 2012.

YB Hj Awang Ahmad Morshidi suggested making cancer screenings mandatory, saying investing in preventative care would be cheaper than financing costly treatment for advanced cancer.

The minister replied that research on the prevalence of cancer had already been conducted, and it was a matter of applying that data to preventative care in Brunei.

“We have already started with screening programmes for women such as cervical cancer... Breast cancer screening too has also been organised.

“So these programmes are already running but we just want to strengthen it further,” the minister said.

The Brunei Times