BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Sixty percent of breast cancer patients were diagnosed late, reducing their chances of survival, the executive director of Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre (PJSC) said on Thursday.

Dr Hj Mazrul Adimin said the number of new breast cancer cases continue to rise, with a large percentage detected at stages 3 and 4 of the cancer – when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

A total of 141 people were diagnosed with breast cancer last year compared to 137 cases in 2018.

Speaking at the launch of Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2020, Dr Hj Mazrul said breast cancer can be cured when it is discovered at an early stage.

“Most people are not aware or are afraid to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages,” he added.
He said PJSC’s Brunei Cancer Centre (TBCC) hopes to diagnose cancer patients at stages 0 or 1, which have a nearly 100 percent survival rate.

The health ministry last year started breast cancer screening as part of a national screening programme to reduce the risk of early death.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Brunei.

TBCC consultant medical oncologist Dr Ravi Patnaik said the COVID-19 pandemic has not caused delays in breast cancer treatment since the first coronavirus case was reported on March 9.

A total of 2,711 patients received treatment from March to August this year, as opposed to 3,632 patients who underwent treatment from September 2019 to February 2020.

With reports of cancer patients experiencing treatment delays in many countries, he said healthcare services never slowed down and TBCC is still working without compromising the health of patients.

A total of 2,075 suspected breast cancer cases were referred to medical oncologists between March and August of this year compared to 2,732 between September 2019 and February 2020.

From March to August 2020, 109 cases were then referred to TBCC’s Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Team (MDT), which manages patients’ treatment.

Wu Chun (C) was named PJSC’s Goodwill Ambassador and Messenger of Cancer Awareness. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

October has been designated as Breast Cancer Awareness month to raise awareness and reduce premature deaths through early detection, treatment as well as palliative care of the disease.

PJSC hopes better public awareness will encourage the wider community to spread the word and help people understand the importance of getting people to talk about cancer and their anxieties.

This year’s awareness campaign focuses on empowering breast cancer patients and survivors.

The campaign also aims to educate people on how they can access medical help and not trust alternative treatments or promised “cures”.

During the launch event, PJSC also announced Wu Chun as goodwill ambassador and messenger of cancer awareness for his strong interest and active contribution towards raising awareness.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that 2,075 breast cancer cases were referred to medical oncologists between March and August, 2020. It should be suspected breast cancer cases, and not as previously stated.