Region’s lowest lung cancer cases, deaths in Brunei

|     Azlan Othman     |

BRUNEI Darussalam recorded the lowest number of new cases of lung cancer and deaths from lung cancer among the 10 ASEAN member countries, with 105 cases and 77 deaths respectively last year, figures from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Global Cancer Observatory 2018 revealed.

Lung cancer killed nearly 1.8 million people globally in 2018, with 61.4 per cent of these deaths occurring in the Asia-Pacific region according to the data.

The statistics also revealed that 59.3 per cent of the world’s new lung cancer cases are also found in the same region. Across ASEAN member states, the Global Cancer Observatory recorded a total of 113,105 new cases of lung cancer last year. The disease also claimed 100,656 lives in the region in 2018.

Smokers have a higher risk of getting lung cancer, which accounts for at least 80 per cent of all lung cancer cases. However, environmental factors such as air pollution, occupational exposure and secondary smoking also contribute to the risk.

Cancer can also burden the healthcare system due to an ageing population and the adoption of cancer-causing lifestyle behaviours. ASEAN healthcare spending is forecast to reach USD740 billion in 2025, and this rise is expected to hurt the economy and healthcare standards in the region.

During the World Cancer Day celebrations in the country this year, it was reported that 625 people in Brunei were diagnosed with cancer in 2017, resulting in 353 deaths. One in five deaths in the country – or 20 per cent – is caused by cancer.

According to statistics from the National Cancer Registry, the risk of contracting cancer for males is 27 per cent, or one in four. The most common types of cancers afflicting men are colorectal (63 cases), trachea, bronchus and lung (39 cases), and prostate (30 cases) cancer.

For females, this risk is 29 per cent, or one in three. Common cancers affecting women are breast cancer (80 cases), colorectal cancer (35 cases) and cervical cancer (32 cases).

As with other non-infectious diseases, most cancers are preventable.

Individuals who are overweight, smoke, or consume unhealthy foods and alcohol have a higher risk of contracting cancer such as breast, lung and colon cancer.

Since all the risk factors for cancer can be prevented, it is necessary for us to equally avoid and follow a few healthy lifestyle steps like quitting smoking and avoiding exposure to passive smoking; maintaining a healthy weight from childhood until adulthood; consuming two – three servings of fruits and two – three servings of vegetables daily; reducing the intake of foods that contain high/excess fat; and carrying out physical activity of least 30 minutes five times or more per week.