Early check for breast cancer vital

National, Normal


MANY Papua New Guinean women continue to fall victim to breast cancer but little has been done to contain the spread of the disease through early screening and treatment.
Histopathologist and senior lecturer at the University of Papua New Guinea School of Medicine, Dr Jacob Morewaya, said this yesterday at the annual Pink Ribbon Day brunch at the Royal Papuan Yacht Club.
Dr Morewaya stressed that early self referrals and check-ups for breast cancer were important for PNG women wanting to know their health status.
However, he said more awareness was needed to teach women to recognise the symptoms and where to go for early screening and treatment of cancer.
“We have the equipment there but women are hesitant in coming forward and use them for screening,” he said, adding that most of them were scared of being diagnosed with cancer after they developed lumps or see physical changes happening to their breasts.
He urged women to push their fears aside and go in for early treatment so that the cancer, if detected early, could still be contained locally and prevented from spreading and becoming life-threatening.
“We have a mammogram at Pacific International Hospital that can help us look for signs of breast cancer and radio therapy at Angau in Lae to confirm or tell us what stages or types of breast cancer we have,” Dr Morewaya said.
Other techniques, he said, include the fine needles aspiration and the care biopsy where small tissue from the breast was taken and sent to a laboratory for testing.
While the equipment was readily available, support and awareness was needed to alert the female population on the importance of getting screened and having treatment early, Dr Morewaya added.
Breast cancer affects more than one-third of PNG’s female population, who have access to cancer treatment facilities. However, more awareness were needed on early therapy and efforts by the Port Moresby Cancer Relief Society and the PNG Breast Cancer Foundation which was launched three months ago.
The breast cancer annual Pink Ribbon Day brunch was celebrated at the Port Moresby Royal Papuan Yacht Club yesterday as part of the cancer awareness campaign in Port Moresby.
More than 100 people representing corporate companies and women’s groups showed up for the event to raise funds for the society and its stakeholders.
Westpac Bank in PNG has also stepped in to help the PNG Breast Cancer Foundation by selling pink ribbons, pins and wrist bands.
The Westpac staff in Port Moresby will be wearing pink on Friday to commemorate a colleague, Freda Ahipum, who passed away early this year after being diagnosed with breast cancer.