Saving Women’s Lives

Local Women are Encouraged to Test for Breast Cancer

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National Referral Hospital (NRH) - Department of Radiology and X-ray, Radiologist Loretta Maeohu.

IT seems like it’s never been that easier to detect breast cancer in Solomon Islands but now a new technology – ‘Mammogram Machine’ – is currently available at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) in Honiara.

The Mammogram screening programme at the NRH aims to provide a timely detection or prevention of breast cancer and the reduction of breast cancer mortality, meanwhile the test promises to make screening much more easier, better and more accessible to women in the country.

The NRH – Head of Radiology and X-ray Department, Dr Aaron Oritamae said the Mammograms helps to detect breast cancer early and can save many lives; therefore mammography is the most effective breast cancer-screening tool in use today.

“Women need to come forward to book an appointment at the Hospital to allow the radiologist to capture the image so that abnormalities can be detected more easily,” he told Solomon Women.

Mammograms are an important health care tool. It helps to improve breast cancer detection and diagnosis. It is an x-ray picture of the breast and can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease.

This type of mammogram is called a screening mammogram. Screening mammograms usually involve two or more x-ray pictures, or images, of each breast. The x-ray images often make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt. Screening mammograms can also find micro calcifications (tiny deposits of calcium) that sometimes indicate the presence of breast cancer.

Dr Oritamae added that women need to come forward to do early breast check-ups to avoid getting into stage 3 and stage 4 of breast cancer.

“Breast cancer can generate into several stages (the virus can grow into those specific stages); as the virus gets bigger it can’t be cured. It can only be curable when it is in stage 0 and 1.

“In order for us to prevent it from spreading to the next level, women should come forward to do early check-ups especially if they notice any lump in your breast,” he said.
Breast cancer has currently become one of the most common cancers affecting local women in Solomon Islands.

According to the radiologist of the NRH – Cancer Screening Programme, Loretta Maeohu, around 3,000 women have been diagnosed with breast cancer since the programme was established in July 2003.

“769 women have undergone breast cancer screening over the years and as a result – 5% of the total figure have proven to be positive with breast cancer. The result shows that positive cases of breast cancer are very high in our country.

She said according to the examination protocol of the Mammogram; only women aged 30 and above are the ones who are allowed to do breast screening.

“Women aged below 20 must seek the approval from a doctor before they are allowed to do breast screening. Early detection of breast cancer with screening mammography means that treatment can be started earlier in the course of the disease, possibly before it has spread,” the radiologist said.

A Honiara based charity group – ‘Pink Ribbon Ladies Charity’ donated the mammogram machine to the NRH Radiology Department in 2014. The local women’s charity group saw the need to save lives and improve the survival rate of women with breast cancer in the country.

Head of Radiology, Dr Oritamae said it is important for women to do breast self-examinations.

“It is women’s own responsibility to do breast self examination. If a woman detects a lump in her breast, she should seek medical advice immediately.

“By regularly examining your breasts on your own, can be an important way to find a breast cancer early, when it’s more likely to be treated successfully. Not every cancer can be found this way, but it is a critical step you can and should take for yourself,” he added.