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1.    Over the last 10 years, more than 800 women have been diagnosed with breast cancer in Brunei Darussalam. It is the most common cancer in women worldwide and is also the leading cause of cancer-related death in women. Each year the number of new cases increases, with the chance of 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. In 2016, 139 individuals were newly diagnosed with breast cancer in Brunei Darussalam.


2.    Early detection of breast cancer is key to improving chances of survival. If the disease is found at an early stage, treatment is much more effective at removing the cancer and lowering the chance of it returning in the future. When cancer is found at an advanced stage, where it has spread to other organs, more prolonged and complicated treatment is needed. However, in such cases, curative treatment may no longer be an option and palliative care to relief the suffering of patients and their families is needed. 


3.    Learning and practicing regular Breast Self-Examination (BSE) is an important part of early detection. Breast awareness is about knowing what feels normal for you. If you notice any changes for example breast lumps, even those that do not cause pain, it is advisable to promptly see a doctor at the clinics or hospitals. If further tests are needed, the doctors will then arrange a referral to the Breast clinic. Women over the age of 47 who have never had a mammogram, or had one done more than 3 years ago are strongly urged to visit your local clinic for a referral to breast clinic so that necessary test to detect early signs of breast cancer can be arranged.


4.    Breast cancer can happen to anyone, including younger women, as well as men. In Brunei Darussalam, the majority of breast cancer cases occur in women aged 40 to 60 years. However, one can reduce their risk of getting cancer by living a healthy lifestyle. This includes doing regular exercises, consuming a healthy diet and avoiding known risk factors such as smoking. For those who have direct family members such as mother, sisters, aunts or grandmothers, diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, we recommend them to be even more vigilant with their breast examinations as they are at higher risk of developing breast cancer themselves.


5.    This October, in commemoration of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we would like to take the opportunity to remind women of all ages to become more breast aware and learn the importance of early detection. Breast cancer can affect anyone directly or indirectly. Everyone needs to play their role in promoting and supporting awareness of this disease. In line with the strategic priorities of the Ministry of Health to make health as everyone's business as well as to prevent and control non-communicable diseases, we urge everyone to increase their attention on this disease by practicing regular BSE and living a healthy lifestyle. Together we can help prevent the rising cases of NCDs especially breast cancer.