Bandar Seri Begawan - The afternoon session of the Knowledge Convention Seminar and Workshop revealed worrying trends with regard to the number of cancer cases in Brunei, where healthcare services are generally free of charge for the locals.
Studies showed that, from 2004 to 2006, the leading cause of death in the nation was cancer, with 400 cases reported every year.
"However, in 2011, the top five cancer cases in Brunei were colon cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer and stomach cancer, respectively," explained Dr Hj Muhd Syafiq Abdullah, the Consultant Oncologist from the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital at the main hall of the International Convention Centre.
He added that the high number of cases could have been avoided if the public stopped, for instance, smoking, and if they did not disregard symptoms at an early stage, and that the majority of lung cancer patients, who happened to be male, "came in (hospitals) quite late".
"If you do not feel well, and if there are existing symptoms, do not say it is nothing serious," he advised, adding that smokers need to kick the habit.
"The risk of developing cancer from cigarette smoking will only be reduced by 50 per cent 10 years after you stop smoking. This means that the damage has already been done," said Dr Hj Muhd Syafiq.
As cancer cases are slowly increasing in the Sultanate, breast cancer is becoming a concern as they are being detected among women at a young age.
Lung cancer among non-smokers has also increased, while obesity has been linked to endometrium cancer.
According to Dr Hj Muhd Syafiq, 40 per cent of the cancer cases are preventable if people are equipped with knowledge on measures such as changing one's lifestyle, and tacking action wherever necessary.
The consultant oncologist further said, "The majority of Bruneians are shy to step forward and consult a doctor regarding their health. Healthcare is free in Brunei, so instead of being shy (or in denial) to see a doctor, we should be flooding all the clinics or healthcare centres. As the saying goes - prevention is better than cure.
"Maintenance of the body is like maintaining a car. However, the only thing about the body is that there are no spare parts when something goes wrong. If you take care of your body, it will take care of you."
There are four ways to prevent cancer, which are to avoid smoking (or activities related to tobacco); eating healthy; engaging in constant physical activities, "(thereby) preventing the contracting of diseases such as Hepatitis B - which can cause cancer"; and avoiding the consumption of alcohol.
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin