Daniel Lim & Lyna Mohamad
Fear of the unknown has led to late detection of breast cancer in most cases in Brunei Darussalam, said breast surgery consultant at the Ministry of Health (MoH) Dr Hajah Amalinda binti Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Haji Suyoi.
This has resulted in most cases in Brunei being diagnosed at the advance stage. She said early detection of breast cancer will lead to higher chances of survival, and regular breast self-examination for signs and symptoms will help.
The consultant was a speaker at the ‘Think Pink Take Action: A Conversation On Breast Cancer’ forum, organised by the Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre (PJSC) in collaboration with the MoH.
Around 43.6 per cent of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at the regional stage, 38.2 per cent at the localised stage and 18.2 per cent at the distant metastasis stage, said nursing officer at the Health Promotion Centre (HPC) Hajah Noor Artini binti Haji Abdul Rahman at another talk in the Brunei-Muara District yesterday.
“The earlier cancer is detected, the simpler the treatment will be and simpler surgery is required. Meanwhile, chemotherapy may not be required and there is lower the risk of cancer returning.
“So do regular mammograms and monthly breast self-examination, you can avoid going to the worst case if it is detected at an early stage during this process,” said the nursing officer to participants of the talk at the Meragang Sixth Form Centre (PTEM).
Other statistics shared yesterday included Brunei-Muara District recording the highest percentage of breast cancer patients at 70.6 per cent while Belait District at 16.4 per cent, Tutong District at 11.6 per cent and Temburong District at 1.4 per cent, said the nursing officer.
The highest number of cases were in the 50 to 59 age group (33.8 per cent, followed with 40- 49 (29.7 per cent), 60- 69 (15.2 per cent), 40 and below (13.3 per cent) and 70 and above (eight per cent).
Talks on breast cancer were held yesterday to raise awareness on the importance of early detection and self-screening.
In the Belait District, 56 women comprising government officers, representatives from non-government organisations, and teachers from higher learning institutions attended the PJSC forum.
Consultant Medical Oncologist and Head of the Medical Oncology Department at The Brunei Cancer Centre (TBCC) Dr Lu Shir Kiong delivered a talk on ‘The Brunei Cancer Centre: Role And Services in Cancer Care’. He highlighted the role of the centre in providing care and treatment to cancer cases.
Clinical psychologist and mental health strategy lead at the HPC Nor Syahmun binti Haji Matassan delivered a talk on the psychological impact of breast cancer and other chronic conditions highlighting the stages of psychological impacts experienced by the patient from diagnosis, undergoing treatment to the end of treatment.
The event continued with a series of forums led by panellists including Head of the Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention Unit at the MoH Dr Ong Sok King, senior medical officer from the Brunei Cancer Centre Dr Alfredo, and clinical charge nurse from the Early Detection and Cancer Prevention Services at TBCC Sarina binti Haji Junaidi.
Meanwhile, 80 teachers and non-teaching staff at PTEM attended the briefing by Hajah Noor Artini.
The nursing officer said reported incidents of malignant breast cancer in the country in 2015 were 80 cases, 107 in 2016, 80 in 2017 and 110 in 2018. She said there were 105 cases in 2019, 114 cases in 2020 and in 107 in 2021, though data collection is still being updated due to the COVID-19 pandemic in recent years. The nursing officer said some risk factors of breast cancer include exposure to high dose radiation therapy as a child, obesity, postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
“To reduce these risk factors, it is important to practice healthy lifestyle such as regular physical activity,” she said.
KNOWING WHAT TO LOOK FOR
PTEM school counsellor Nuradina Kasandra binti Haji Haliluddin. said the school conducts breast cancer awareness talks annually, usually for students. “This was the first time it involved teachers.
“During discussions with teachers, we know that they are aware of breast cancer but they do not know how to self-check,” she added.
It is important for them to be able to self-check and know the signs to look out for, Nuradina said, since they fall under the age group most at risk. Following the talk, participants were given a demonstration on how to do self-check by nurses.