Be a Breast Friend, Early Detection for your Protection
The Ministry of Health and Wellness held a media launch on October 4, 2018 in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Saint Lucia.
According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) forty-one million persons die each year from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which is equivalent to seventy per cent of all deaths worldwide. Cancers account for nine million of these deaths.
NCDs include stroke, heart attack, diabetes, cancer and hypertension, also referred to as the silent killer. They aren’t transferable from person to person but are, in great part, due to lifestyle choices.
During the month of October the issue of breast cancer awareness, education and prevention will be highlighted. During the media launch for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Family Life Educator with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Janelle Alexander-Dupre, stressed the importance of breast selfexaminations to spot early changes in one’s body.
She said, “And this year we have decided to target women in their productive years, women between the ages of 25 – 50 years, but not forgetting also younger women because they too can get breast cancer, and the earlier we get accustomed to our bodies, our breast, the better the chances of survival.”
The theme for this year’s observance is “Be a breast friend, early detection for your protection”. According to Family Nurse Practitioner Sharon Tench-Norbal, early detection of breast cancer will reduce morbidity and mortality and screening services are available at all public healthcare facilities on-island.
“Breast cancer screening is performed to detect any changes in the structure of the breast, such as breast lumps, any breast pain, discomfort, dimpling, discharge or any abnormality in the surrounding lymph nodes. All women are encouraged to visit the health centre in their community to get their breast examined by the nurse. At the health centre they will also be taught how to examine their breast. They will receive information as to referrals,” said Tench-Norbal.
NCDs contribute significantly to losses in productivity, increased economic burden to individuals, families, communities and the nation. Ag. National Epidemiologist Dr. Michelle Francois said cancer is the second leading cause of death with breast and cervical cancers being responsible for most cancer-related deaths among Caribbean women.
She said, “In Saint Lucia, cancers, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and hypertension respectively are our top five killers between 2013 and 2015, all of them being noncommunicable diseases. These top five causes of death accounted for over half of the total deaths in 2014. Cancer alone accounted for twenty per cent of all the deaths in both 2014 and 2015. In 2015 we had stroke, prostate cancer and diabetes being the leading causes of death in our men and a similar trend was noticed in the women, with stroke, diabetes and breast cancer being the main cause of death.”
Francois continued, “The leading site of cancer death in Saint Lucia is the breast. Breast cancer is ranked as the number one cause of cancer deaths among women in Saint Lucia from since 2006, and the trend shows that the numbers continue to increase.”
Dr. Francois added that studies show the risk of breast cancer increases with age and most cases are diagnosed beyond the age of 50. However, cases have been recorded with women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. She said many of the cancers are preventable through modification of one’s lifestyle such as decreasing alcohol consumption, stopping smoking, regular screening, early detection and effective treatment. She encouraged all women to get their breast examination done, particularly during the observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
This Breast Cancer Awareness Month focus on supporting those you know who have the disease.