"Join the fight against breast cancer through early detection and awareness." This is the message the Fiji Cancer Society is sending out this October, which is breast cancer awareness month, worldwide.
Fiji Cancer Society Chairperson and breast cancer awareness month President Nirmala Nambiar said, "Fiji continues to have a high incidence of breast cancer deaths with large number of tumors presented to health professionals at a late stage due to the stigma of having the disease."
In the first quarter of 2011, there were 46 new breast cancer cases recorded, whilst there were 33 new cases in the same period last year.
"The figures could be scary but one must understand that as the awareness increases in our communities the number of cases recorded increases," she warned.
Men and women should be aware that age, obesity and family history are all factors that contribute to the risk of developing the disease.
This October the Fiji Cancer Society has planned a number of events all targeted to raise awareness since the lack of information and education is dangerous.
Nambiar said through partnership with the Ministry of Health, Oxfam Clinic in Suva and the Fiji Nurses Association, supported by the sponsorship of Colgate Palmolive, the focus this year is on reaching out to the rural community and making a difference to the lives of the poor and unprivileged.
"We have free checkups planned for the month at the major villages from Vunidawa, Korovou and Valelevu to Lami at the other end and hope that we will be able to support the women in this area who may not be able to have a check- up otherwise.
According to the official, the society's western branch continues to arrange free check- ups with the support of the Patan Clinic.
The awareness and free checkups have also been arranged for corporate organizations at their request and if we are not able to provide all this during October we will continue to schedule them for the following month.
The Society's thanks go to Suva Private Hospital for offering half price mammograms for the month of October, Nambiar said, adding a common issue with Fiji women, according to doctors at the hospital, was the return rate.
"Once they hear the news that they have cancer, many women don' t return because of the fear of what's next. Hence the Society is working with the hospitals and helping counsel patients to get them back for treatment rather than fight the losing battle, since 70 percent of cancer cases can be saved through early detection and treatment," she said.
The Fiji Cancer Society strongly believes that the success of the awareness program this month will set the platform for the society's ongoing initiative to drive and raise the community's understanding, get them involved and make them take care of each other.
Editor: Deng Shasha