BREAST cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths amongst women in Saint Lucia since 2006 according to the Bureau of Health Education in the country.
Therefore in observance of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Bureau is calling on both men and women to come get their breasts examined.
But, why men, do they get cancer in their breasts?
Yes, they do echoed Sharon Tench-Norbal (Family Nurse Practitioner), Michelle Francois (National Epidemiologist Ag.) and Janelle Alexander Dupre (Family Life Educator) all of the Bureau of Health Education when the question was put to them. The trio held a press conference held last week to promote, as is being done the world over, Breast Awareness Month.
“The leading site of cancer death among females 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,” Francois said.
She affirmed that studies have found that the risk of breast cancer increases with age and that most of the breast cancer cases are diagnosed beyond the age of 50.
“Although similar findings have been observed in Saint Lucia this does not mean it is restricted to 50-year-olds and up. We have recorded cases of breast cancer in the 40s, 30s and some even in their 202. So it is something we need to flag, something we need to address,” Francois said.
Francois also said that a significant proportion of the cancers can be prevented through the modification of lifestyles, such as decreasing alcohol consumption, smoking, regular screening, etc.
Tench-Norbal explained that breast cancer screening services are available and accessible in all the 33 health centers, one polyclinic and two district hospitals in the country.
“This means that clinical breast examination is available in almost every community in Saint Lucia. Breast examination is to determine any abnormality in the lymph nodes. All women are encouraged to visit the health center in their community to get their breast examined by a nurse. They will also be taught how to examine their own breasts,” Norbal said.
To her the best defense against breast cancer is early detection as it could reduce the mortality and morbidity rate.
“Breast self-examination is not just for women, we are encouraging the men to get their breasts examined because men do get breast cancer,” Tench-Norbal said.
The theme being pursued in observance of Breast Cancer Month is “Be a best friend – early detection for your protection”. The Bureau will be partnering with some business houses on island and the Cancer Society to conduct employees how to examine their breasts.