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Breast cancer increases by 80% in women

There is an alarming increase in the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer in Samoa, according to the Cancer Society Patient Support Officer, Fa’avaivai Fiu.

Fa’avaivai said more than 90 women have been registered and 80% of them have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Most of these women are already in Stage 3 cancer when they come to the hospital and that is why we are pushing these awareness programmes to ensure our people understand what’s at stake here,” said Fa’avaivai.
The 80% only covers women already registered with Cancer Society, and the concern is that more women have cancer but are not aware of it, and the Cancer Society hopes that more will be informed of the symptoms of cancer as the Pinktober campaign continues.

As part of the Pinktober campaign, Seis were made and sold to help fund the month long public awareness campaign.

Shelley Burich, Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Cancer Society said the main purpose of the sei making project is to create a platform for other NGOs and the private sector to join in and support the cause.

“It is also to promote the collaboration and partnership, a coming together to form an advocacy group to talk about how we can together work towards promoting cancer awareness in Samoa,” said Burich.

In opening Pinktober Tuesday, the Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama, re-emphasised the need for early diagnosis as the key to maximising chances for surviving cancer.

Organisation recognises that at the global level a major problem is that many cancer cases are diagnosed too late.

“Even in countries with optimal health systems and services, many cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat successfully,” he continued.  “It is therefore important for us all to remember that early diagnosis is the key to maximizing chances for surviving cancer.”

To that extend, the Health Minister is urging local residents to get screening tests regularly whenever and wherever possible to ensure early diagnosis of breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate cancers and other forms of cancer.

“As a Medical Practitioner, I encourage self- examination for breast cancer and that every woman needs to learn about the signs and symptoms in order to keep alert to any possible breast cancer.

“Mothers I urge you to encourage your daughters from within the home environment on the importance of screening and self-examination for breast cancer.

“Cancer as you may all be aware is the uncontrolled growth and spread of cells. It can affect almost any part of the body. The growths often invade surrounding tissue and can metastasize to distant sites. This is one of the main reasons why early diagnosis and treatment is so essential to improving chances of survival.

“I wish to emphasise that breast cancer is becoming more and more common in Samoa and every girl and woman is encouraged to keep vigilant. Early detection can mean surviving breast cancer. A significant proportion of cancers including breast can be cured, by surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy if they are detected early.”

The Samoa Cancer Society in the meantime has reported that 99 out of cancer patients referred to them over the past 12 months, 21 were diagnosed with breast cancer and a further 11 patients have been presented with breast lumps and masses for further investigation.

It is also noted that 17 of these breast cancers are late diagnosis at stages three and four, with only 4 diagnosed as early, i.e. stages one and two.

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