CASES of endometrial cancer in the Sultanate have increased in the last 10 years, affecting a surprising number of pre-menopausal women aged below 40, said a medical practitioner yesterday.
Endometrial cancer, a malignant disease that occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells in the lining (endometrium) of the uterus, are most often found in women who have already gone through menopause.
However, the Executive Director of the National Cancer Centre Brunei yesterday said, pre-menopausal women are also increasingly affected, especially those with a combination of various risk factors including an unhealthy lifestyle, obesity, chronic diseases, lack of exercises and poor diet.
On the sidelines of the Gynaecological Cancer Symposium yesterday, Dr Hj Muhd Syafiq Abdullah, said that this year from January to July alone, there were 20 endometrial cancers diagnosed in women compared with around 10 to 15 in 2001.
Dr Hj Muhd Syafiq explained that the current number of endometrial cancers could be higher as the current data cited refers to cases that were only diagnosed in the country.
There might be other patients who had undergone their health check overseas, the oncology specialist said, adding, "I'm pretty sure, the number (of endometrial cancers) is more."
Endometrial cancer takes years to develop and has a "very strong connection" with obesity, he said. "What we are trying to highlight is obesity is a big issue as it can cause breast cancer, endometrial cancer, ovary cancer, or any cancer that associated with obesity, which most of the cancer is," he said.
He went on to say that the number of endometrial cancer can be reduced if cases such as obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, can also be reduced.
"If we reduce all the risk factors, we can reduce all the diseases that are associated with it."
In efforts to curb the disease, he stressed on the importance of keeping the public, including medical practitioners, updated on progress in the field of endometrial cancer. "We should educate everybody and with that, hopefully we can see a reduction in (future cases) without carrying out any drug treatments," he said, adding that one of the role of the National Cancer Centre is to provide the public with information on all types of cancer.
Fighting against cancer is a nationwide effort in the country and the Ministry of Health has been proactive in educating the public about making healthy food choices and exercise, he said.
The centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, are in the final process of building a multi-storey facility to provide state-of-the-art treatment by using the latest technology and medical equipment.
He said the National Cancer Centre in Jerudong Park is expected to be built early next year.
The Ministry of Health in collaboration with Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC) opened Brunei's first National Cancer Centre on December 21, 2009 to provide Bruneian cancer patients with a local treatment option.
The centre yesterday organised a symposium on gynaecological cancer to mark Cancer Awareness Month in October.