Jakarta. The Ministry of Health's head of cancer control, Niken Palupi, said more young Indonesian women are now suffering from breast cancer, a fatal disease once thought to be more prevalent among older women.
"In the past, the average age of breast cancer patients is around 40 years or above. Now, many women in their 20s have already contracted breast cancer," Niken said in Jakarta on Thursday (20/10), as reported by state news agency Antara.
Niken added that there are even reports of 21-year-old patients with stage four breast cancer.
According to her, non-transmissible diseases — including cancer — are one of the biggest health problems in Indonesia.
"One of the most common types of cancer is breast cancer, with an incident rate of 40 in every 100,000 women. This number is expected to increase, due to the changing lifestyle of many Indonesians," Niken said.
According to oncologist Andhika Rachman, trigger factors for breast cancer include family history, obesity, smoking, hormonal imbalance and stress.
In response to this, Niken urges women to watch out for early signs of breast cancer, either by self-examination or going for a full breast check at medical centers.
Last month, Breast Cancer Foundation of Indonesia (YKPI) chairwoman Linda Gumelar said breast cancer is the most deadly type of cancer for women in Indonesia.
"In Indonesia, breast cancer has the highest mortality rate. 21.5 deaths in every 100,000 are caused by breast cancer," she said.
In many countries around the world, October is breast cancer awareness month — symbolized by a pink ribbon, a global movement to raise awareness of the deadly disease.