BRUNEI Darussalam through The Brunei Cancer Centre (TBCC) recently marked World Cancer Day, which is celebrated on February 4 every year.
This year’s theme, ‘not beyond us’, emphasised that controlling cancer is not beyond us, and many of the available information can be used to effectively control this epidemic, a press release from TBCC said.
At present, 8.2 million people die from cancer worldwide, and about half die prematurely, with some of them in the younger age group.
In many countries including Brunei Darussalam, there are lifestyle changes that increase cancer risk, which include smoking habits, obesity and sedentary lifestyles, poor diet, increased meat intake especially processed meat, as well as infections like HPV (Human Papillomavirus), Hepatitis B and C and Helicobacter Pylori.
In Brunei Darussalam, cancer is the number one killer, with more new cases diagnosed and more deaths reported. Many of the cancers are unfortunately diagnosed in advanced stages, as many patients have been carried away with claims of “cure” by alternative treatments and seek professional help late.
At present, two cases of colorectal and two cases of breast cancer are referred to TBCC almost every week, either after surgery or in about 20-30 per cent advanced stage. In many developed countries, cancer cases are increasing, but more of these are Stage I and Stage II cases due to early detection in colorectal breast and cervix cancers, and many of these can be cured with proper treatment.
Smoking is known to cause many cancers – oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, trachea, lungs, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidneys, cervix, bladder, colon and rectum in addition to other chronic diseases of the lungs, heart and eye, and diabetes. Twenty-two per cent of global cancer deaths are due to smoking.
Nearly half of the cancers worldwide can be prevented, if we act on what we know, the press release said.
Among the many steps the Ministry of Health under His Majesty’s Government has taken to fight the threat of cancer are through the reduction of smoking in the population through tobacco control; increasing awareness of cancer and other Non-Communicable Disease (NCDs) through Health Promotion programmes; employing early detection tests such as PAP smears, mammogrammes and colonoscopies; promotion of lifestyle changes to reduce obesity and promote good diets; employing vaccination programmes like Hepatitis B in childhood and HPV programmes in prepubertal girls, reducing the availability of alcohol; and provision of treatment facilities such as surgical, oncological, radiological and radiotherapy and palliative care.