A pro-active approach needed to tackle breast cancer, Dr May

Press Release Posted On: October 2, 2020

FNU staff and students during the Pinktober Campaign launch.

Breast Cancer is one of the leading cause of death amongst women in Fiji. According to the Fiji National University (FNU) Acting Vice-Chancellor Dr William May, 96 women were diagnosed with breast cancer at the Colonial War Memorial (CWM) Hospital last year.

Dr May revealed the latest statistics while speaking during the launch of the 2020 Pinktober campaign, at the Fiji National University’s (FNU) Nasinu Campus yesterday.

The Pinktober campaign provides a platform to create greater awareness of breast cancer in Fiji.

The Acting Vice-Chancellor said 355 histology confirmed cancer cases were recorded at CWMH between 2006 and 2012 alone.

An analysis by Suva’s Colonial War Memorial Hospital showed breast cancer largely affected itaukei women, which made up to 64 per cent cases in the above given period

“Our itaukei population have a preference for traditional medicine over hospital treatment. Refusal of treatment is a huge challenge in our country,” commented Dr May.

In conveying this, the Acting Vice-Chancellor shared a case from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services which was recorded in 2014 where a 23-year-old female who presented to the breast clinic with a hard lump involving the whole left breast, declined Mastectomy and also refused to attend any further surgical clinic.

Dr May reiterated that breast cancer could be cured and urged early detection.

Fiji Cancer Society Chief Executive Officer Belinda Chan.

Fiji Cancer Society Chief Executive Officer, Belinda Chan said many Fijian women continue to lose their lives to cancer, and a strategic approach is needed to help decrease the cancer-related mortality in the country.

“Cancer disproportionately affects women, breast and cervical are the most common cancers in Fiji, making more than 1/3 of all cancers in Fiji,” said Chan.

“Research has shown that there are many more Fijians who die of cancer, that are not recorded in the health system.  Cancer is becoming a great burden to the Fijian people, causing physical, social and economic hardship both short and long-term,” she added.

Chan also stated that cancer not only impacts those who suffer directly but also those who are affected indirectly, such as the immediate family members, relatives, colleagues and friends of the patient.

“It is important that if one person in the family has cancer, the whole family and the community must accommodate the changing needs to care for this particular person. This is why the Fiji Cancer Society exists, to support those who are suffering or recovering from these hardships.  The society recognises the magnitude of cancer in Fiji,” Chan highlighted.

A four-week programme which includes awareness activities, health screening and educational sessions has been organised at all FNU Campuses to educate staff and students about the importance of early screening, tests and care.