Awareness on breast cancer vital for PNG

National, Normal

AWARENESS on preventative methods for breast cancer is vital for PNG, a conference was told last week.
Speaking at the sixth national conference of the PNG Perioperative Nurses Society (PNG PNS) at the Shady Rest Hotel, founder of PNG Breast Cancer Foundation (PNGBCF) Joyce Madu said knowledge on preventing breast cancer needed to be disseminated widely and effectively in the country.
Madu, who is also a nurse and a breast cancer survivor, said last Friday though breast cancer was preventable, many women in PNG died from it due to lack of awareness on how to prevent it.
Madu survived breast cancer after undergoing treatment in Australia in 2000.
She said she was thankful to have identified the symptoms while it was at its second stage, and urged women to make it their business to have regular breast examination.
She said monthly examinations would help identify symptoms early so that treatment could be sought.
She added that treatment overseas was expensive and it would save costs if women self-examined themselves regularly  and to get treated as soon as possible in hospitals within the country.
It is important to get medical attention immediately if lumps, rashes, growths and abnormal discharges from the nipple appear, as that is the first stage and can be treated in the country.
The second stage is when sores, lumps and rashes get bigger and need overseas treatment, and the third and fourth stages are when the infection get completely out of control and affect other parts of the body.
This is when it has gone way beyond lifesaving treatment.  
“Most women do not bother to check themselves and many came to the hospitals when the infection was fully blown, and nothing could be done to save them,” Madu said.
Most of the nurses, who attended the conference, also admitted that they were not taught how to identify the symptoms, which resulted in some of their colleagues passing away from the infection as well.
International Federation of Perioperative Nurses representative Phyllis Davis said PNG needed extensive awareness as deaths could be avoided as it was a preventable infection. 
“Your breasts are important and you need to have them checked regularly for abnormalities. Do not be ashamed to have them checked by doctors or nurses because they are there to help you,” she said.
She said many women in PNG sought medical attention when they had reached the third and final stages, which was pathetic as nothing could be done for them then.
It is also important for women who have undergone treatment to constantly do medical check-ups.
Breast cancer can also affect men in rare cases; however, men who identify abnormalities on their breast are advised to seek medical examination as well.
Those interested in joining the PNG Breast Cancer Foundation can  contact Joyce Madu on 72376016 or 3403234.