BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — The health minister has urged women to avoid breast enhancement injections as this can cause complications in detecting cancer.

In his statement to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar said the use of fillers for breast augmentation is highly discouraged.

“This substance can cause infections and remain in the breast for many years, and in this state, mammograms cannot be performed because the fillers make detecting the cancer complicated,” he said.

Injection of fillers is a non-surgical procedure that can cause serious health consequences, especially if it is carried out by unlicensed beauticians.

Health experts said fillers injected into the breast tissue are difficult to differentiate from tumours, which can then prevent early detection of cancer.

The health ministry called on the public to report any beauty salons or individuals known to offer such services to Talian Darussalam 123.

Over 100 breast cancer cases reported each year

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said more than 100 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in Brunei, with 60 percent of them detected at stage 2 or higher — when the cancer has already spread to lymph nodes and other organs.

Breast cancer remains the leading cause of death for women around the world, with one in eight women developing breast cancer in her lifetime.

“However, as with other diseases, if the cancer is detected at an early stage, it will allow the patient to get more effective treatment as well as increase the survival rate of the patient.  Hence, early detection of breast cancer is very critical,” the minister said.

He added that it is important for all women to perform a breast self-examination every month. 

“The changes that can be detected through breast self-examination include: lumps or swelling of the breast; changes in shape or size on the breast or nipple; skin discoloration; or fluid discharge from the breast.

“All lumps, whether painful or not, should be examined by a doctor in health centres or hospitals for further examination,” he said.

The health ministry began the National Breast Examination Programme in November 2019 to detect early stages of breast cancer.

The screening programme is targeted at women aged of 40 to 69 years who are registered with Women’s Health Clinics with no history of breast problems.

Individuals who have a family history of breast cancer were advised to undergo genetic testing to check for inherited gene mutations.

Women are also recommended to get a mammogram every three years, unless they are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Uncontrollable risk factors:

  • Age: The risk for breast cancer increases with age. Women aged 50 years and above are eight to 10 times more likely to get cancer.
  • Women have 100 times the risk compared to men.
  • A woman’s risk for breast cancer is higher if there is a family history of breast cancer.
  • Personal history of breast cancer: If a person was diagnosed with breast cancer in the past, then the risk of relapse/recurrence is high.
  • Menstrual period: Women who started menstruation early have a higher risk of getting breast cancer after menopause.
  • Hereditary factors: Five to 10 percent of cancers are related to genetic mutations such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

Controllable risk factors:

  • Breastfeeding: Women who breastfed between one to two years have reduced risk of getting breast cancer.
  • Drinking alcohol: Women who consume alcoholic beverages have 1.5 times higher risk compared to women who do not consume alcohol.
  • Exercise: Women who are physically active have reduced risk of breast cancer. Research shows that 30 minutes of exercise a day for five days a week is sufficient.