17pc increase in cancer patients from 2014-2018

Azlan Othman

Around 644 Brunei citizens and permanent residents were diagnosed with cancer in 2018, while the number of deaths from cancer in the same year was 304.

This means that in 2018, cancer illnesses accounted for about one in four (28 per cent) of deaths among Brunei citizens and permanent residents. The number of cancer patients has also shown a 17 per cent increase during 2014-2018, compared to 2009-2013.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar highlighted this in his message to mark World Cancer Day.

He also cited 2018 statistics obtained from Brunei Darussalam’s National Cancer Registration, which showed that the lifetime risks of developing cancer was 29 per cent, or one in three, for a woman and 27 per cent, or one in four, for a man.

The statistics showed that the highest rates of cancer in women were breast cancer (100 cases), colorectal cancer (49 cases) and cervical cancer (32 cases).

In men, the highest rates were colorectal (53 cases), lungs (25 cases), and liver and prostate (both 18 cases).

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham said, “In conjunction with World Cancer Day (February 4), Brunei Darussalam is involved in the active participation to raise awareness, as well as taking action and measures to prevent and reduce the effects of cancer.

“The theme for World Cancer Day this year through 2021 is ‘I Am and I Will’. The three-year campaign calls for public commitment to act positively in reducing one-third of the number of premature deaths caused by cancer and non-communicable diseases by 2030.

“What we need to know is that at least one-third of cancers can be prevented by overcoming or controlling six major risk factors.

“The risk factors are: unbalanced eating and eating behaviours; high body mass index (BMI); low or inadequate intake of vegetables and fruits; a sedentary lifestyle; tobacco use; and alcohol intake.”

“Since all of these risk factors can be prevented, it is important for us to avoid them and to take some healthy lifestyle measures such as to stop smoking and avoiding exposure to passive cigarette smoke; maintaining a healthy weight throughout childhood and throughout life; ensuring a daily intake of two-three servings of fruit and two-three servings of vegetables; reducing the intake of food which is high in fat; and doing physical activity for at least 30 minutes, five or more times a week.

“Apart from personal healthcare, I also recommend that we all take proactive measures to prevent the effects of cancer by tracing the early signs of the disease through screening, so that it can be treated early.

“In early 2019, the Ministry of Health introduced and launched the National Health Screening Programme, in an effort to increase the effectiveness of strategies for controlling non-communicable diseases, especially for cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

“The purpose of the programme is to detect and control the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and to prevent complications of these diseases through early treatment.

“In addition to enhancing the Ministry of Health’s efforts to address chronic illnesses such as cancer, it has also introduced the Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme and the Breast Cancer Screening Programme, in addition to the existing Cervical Cancer Screening Programme, as a follow-up programme under the Programme of the National Health Examination in November 2019.

“Among the main purposes of the Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme and the Breast Cancer Screening Programme are the early detection of colorectal cancer and breast cancer; the prevention or early detection of colorectal and breast cancer complications; and the reduction in premature mortality, between 30 and 70 years old due to colorectal and breast cancer.

“Recently, the Ministry of Health has partnered with the Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre (PJSC), in particular the Early Detection and Cancer Prevention Services (EDCP) to support the goals of the Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in achieving Brunei Vision 2035 by improving the quality of life, including public health status.

Insya Allah, this year, the Ministry of Health through the Health Promotion Centre will once again work with PJSC; the Brunei Council on Social Welfare (MKM); Brunei Breast Cancer Support Group (BCSG); Children’s Cancer Foundation (YASKA); and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to celebrate World Cancer Day 2020 at the national level by holding a Walk, Run and Cycling Activity on Sunday during the Bandarku Ceria programme at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien in the capital.”

The minister concluded his message by calling for public participation in the activity, as well as commitment towards working together in raising awareness on the preventive measures to reduce the effects and risks of developing cancer.

For more information on the National Health Screening Programme, visit www.ppkk.gov.bn or the Ministry of Health website at www.moh.gov.bn, or contact the Darussalam hotline at 123.