| Siti Hajar |
THE country’s medical human resource is looking towards investing into cancer research, it was explained yesterday, as part of the establishment of the upcoming Brunei National Cancer Centre (BNCC) aimed at providing better medical services to the people of Brunei.
In an interview on the sidelines of the Breast Cancer Symposium 2014 Multidisciplinary Meet that was held at The Centrepoint Hotel in Gadong, Medical Oncologist Dato Dr Babu Sukumaran said this particular vision is “one of our prime agendas”, which includes encouraging doctors to provide more insight in to the occurrences of cancers among the populace.
Apart from contributing to the medical field and facilitating the growth of cancer-related knowledge, it was also stated that engaging in more cancer research could potentially contribute to heightening Brunei’s stance in the search for better cancer treatment.
However, despite this ambitious future undertaking, it was also noted that medical research into cancer will eventually have to face a number of obstacles that are not just unique to Brunei Darussalam, including the lack of human resource to better understand this form of ailment.
“Every country is in need of more research but it comes to the question of funds and time and what needs to be considered as well as the fact that investments such as these should not take away doctors from treating their patients, who require the necessary assistance and support.”
But in the mean time, it was pointed out that Universiti Brunei Darussalam is currently in the initial processes of conducting cancer research, particularly looking at genetics, how patients are tolerating cancer treatments and the psycho-social aspects of living with the disease.
Attended by dozens of health practitioners in the country, the symposium was organised in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness month observed every October during which time organisations both government and private invest in promoting the importance of breast cancer knowledge especially among women.
“The most important thing women must remember is breast self-exam and should an individual notice unusual lumps they should seek professional consultation and should the patient feel unsatisfied she should get a second opinion just in case they overlooked something significant,” he said.
In the Internet age where information is readily available, Dato Dr Babu Sukumaran cautioned that advertisements for alternative treatments are misleading and have led to delayed medical attention that could prove fatal.
“It is very unfortunate for young people to succumb to breast cancer especially if it can be treated,” he said and added the youngest breast cancer patient in Brunei is 18 years old.
Over the past few years, Brunei Darussalam has seen an increase in breast cancer patients at an average of 70 to 80 new cases a year apart from 250 to 300 various other cancer cases. These breast cancer numbers, he explained, have jumped from 40 to 50 cases a year just a decade ago, which could be an indication that either the population is more aware of the disease or the numbers are naturally increasing.
Among the topics presented yesterday, meanwhile, revolved around new treatment options for cancer patients, which were delivered by both local and international health practitioners from Singapore.