‘Watch your diets and exercise more,’ cancer experts tell Bruneians

|    Azlan Othman    |

BRUNEIANS should look after their diets and carry out more exercise to prevent cancer – even simple activities such as walking can be beneficial.

This was the main advice given by two overseas cancer experts who were in the country for the 1st Borneo Medical Oncology Conference held from April 14 to 15.

The conference, organised by the Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre (PJSC), saw industry experts sharing the latest developments in the field of oncology.

“The cancer scene here is similar compared to anywhere in the world,” said Professor Karol Sikura, one of the two cancer experts the Bulletin spoke to. “People should stop smoking to tackle lung cancer. The PJSC and hospitals have lovely gymnasiums and swimming facilities for people to use. Any sort of exercise will do. We can take the stairs instead of using the lift.”

Professor Angus Dalgleish, meanwhile, noted that one should practise an anti-inflammatory diet and consume more vegetables and fruit.

Medical Director of PJSC and Director of The Brunei Cancer Centre Dato Seri Laila Jasa Dr Babu Sukumaran from the PJSC echoed a similar view, calling on Bruneians to “look after their diet and fight the surging obesity rate by reducing meat and fat intake or eating food with preservatives”.

Among the topics covered at the conference include recent technological and therapy advances in cancer treatment at the PJSC.

Asked what he thought of the facilities at the centre, Professor Karol Sikura said, “The centre is impressive with its state-of-the-art chemotherapy, radiotherapy, diagnostics and CT scan facilities – these are all of world standards. The centre is 95 to 98 per cent able to treat cancer patients as it is well-equipped.

FROM LEFT: Dr Haji Mazrul Adimin bin Haji Besar, Professor Angus Dalgleish, Professor Karol Sikura and Dato Seri Laila Jasa Dr Babu Sukumaran at the media conference of the 1st Borneo Oncology Conference. – AZLAN OTHMAN

“Ten years ago, many cancer patients used to go to Singapore or Malaysia for treatment, and this is disruptive as cancer spreads quickly,” he added.

“The medical and nursing staff are great. The technology found at this centre is similar to those found in the West. The result is comparable with the best in the world. But the population here in the Sultanate is not enough for the state-of-the-art technology found at PJSC to be used to the full.”

For treatments such as bone marrow transplants which can’t be done in Brunei or the PJSC, Professor Dalgleish said he and Professor Sikura can afford the country assistance in the area.

Executive Director of PJSC Dr Haji Mazrul Adimin bin Haji Besar added his thoughts on the country’s cancer problem.

“Cancer is the number one cause of death in Brunei Darussalam, overtaking the heart problem,” he said. “There are so many ways to create awareness on cancer, including through education for the public. But one of the ways to tackle cancer is to reach out to experts and international colleagues who have more experience (in the area) and (draw their) opinions on the many complex cancer cases here in the Sultanate.”

“This is to ensure that we do the right things and (operate on an) international level,” added Dr Haji Mazrul Adimin. “We are on the right track with regards to the facilities at PJSC, we can do the same cancer treatment procedures as in other countries here.”

The first session of the Borneo Medical Oncology Conference took place last Sunday, with yesterday’s session seeing the invited cancer experts discussing the latest advancements in oncology.

This is the first conference held in Brunei linking local cancer specialists with their counterparts in Sarawak, Sabah and the rest of Borneo, part of the PJPC’s efforts to position itself as a leading cancer centre on the island.

Participants at the event include oncologists practising in Borneo as well as top cancer experts from the United Kingdom (UK).

Professor Karol Sikora is the Chief Medical Officer of Proton Partners International, which is currently creating the UK’s first network of Proton Beam Therapy Centres for the treatment of cancer.

Professor Angus Dalgleish is a fellow at the Royal College of Physicians of the UK and Australia. His research interests include the study of how viruses cause cancer, the immunology of cancer, and the development of immunotherapies in the management of cancer.