BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – One in five deaths in Brunei are caused by cancer, according to the latest statistics released by the Ministry of Health on World Cancer Day.

In 2017, the sultanate recorded 385 deaths from cancer — up nine percent from 2016 — while 625 new diagnoses were made.

Women have a slightly higher risk of developing cancer over their lifetime (29 percent or 1 in 3), while men face a 1 in 4, or 27 percent risk of developing the disease.

Bowel, lung and prostate cancer are the three most common cancers among men in Brunei, while breast, bowel and cervical cancer are most common among women.

As with other non-communicable diseases, most cancers are preventable, said health minister Dato Paduka Dr Hj Md Isham Jaafar.

“Those who are overweight, smokers, have an unbalanced diet and drink alcohol, have a higher risk of getting cancer,” he stated in his annual message released in conjunction with World Cancer Day.

Image: Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)

The minister added that citizens should take proactive measures, such as early detection through cancer screenings.

“Individuals with a history of cancer in the family and have additional risk factors are advised to undergo regular checkups

“Preliminary confirmation and adequate treatment should help to improve the healing process and thus provide opportunities for patients with cancer to fully recover,” he said.

The Ministry of Health also provides cancer screenings, which include pap smears; clinical breast exams and mammograms; colonoscopy and tests for intestinal bleeding.

The ministry added it will continue to work with The Brunei Cancer Center to offer the best treatments for patients, which are now offered locally

According to The Brunei Cancer Centre, 35 percent of patients being treated were in stage four, meaning earlier intervention and better awareness was needed among Bruneians.

World Cancer Day is marked every February 4.