Women encouraged to check for breast and cervical cancer


ALL women are encouraged to do health check-ups for breast and cervical cancer at the clinics and hospitals.

Chief Executive Officer of the National Referral Hospital Dr George Malefoasi voiced this at a recent press conference. 

Malefoasi said all cancer screening is ongoing as part of health programmes in the clinics and hospitals.

“Clinicians, doctors and nurses have been trained to carry out cancer screening. 

“Cancer screening is done by basic physical examinations and aided by diagnostic tests which are medical imaging (ultrasound/ mammogram), pathology testings (histology), which helps in confirmation,” he said.

Malefoasi said cancer screening should be available in the clinics where there is a doctor and a trained midwife or a nurse.

“With breast and Cervical Cancer, all women are encouraged to seek advice at the clinic (nurse) and doctor (Government & Private practitioners). Cancer screening is already happening,” he said.

Malefoasi said cancer treatments available are surgical and chemotherapy.

Hormonal and radiotherapy is also one but currently not available in the country, he adds.

“Earlier we diagnose and intervene, the better the outcome,” he said.

Malefoasi said breast and cervical cancer screening are part of reproductive health services at the clinics including youth centres (SIPPA and all public and private clinics).

He said at the national referral hospital breast and prostate cancer screening, treatment and management of care are dealt with by the hospital surgical and medical oncology (cancer) teams.

This is the same for cervical cancer screening and treatment is dealt by Gynaecology and oncology teams at the hospital.

Malefoasi adds that in terms breast cancer pre-warning signs include – lump (pain).

“Most times its painless lump. How it is confirmed – Women will suspect breast lumps (from above clinics) are referred to the NRH for further assessments. The assessments include the following; Physical examination by the doctor followed by ultrasound (of the breast) (confirmation, size and shape) Mammogram when it is available

“I understand this is being procured by donors – FNA (Fine Needle Aspiration) is done, result by pathologist available in a week. (Histology- confirmation test (duration- 1 to 2 months) Specimens come back early now because results come electronically so takes about 3 weeks on average from time of sent. Longer from provinces,” he said.

“What we do mainly is opportunistic screening that is people who present to us. Not mass public screening which we do not have the capacity to do at the moment. For breast cancer we have been giving talks to encourage Breast Self-Examination (BSE) to feel abnormal lumps. And come forward if there is an abnormal lump.

“Women above 40 years old, and those who have family history of breast cancer be extra cautious/vigilant. If you can emphasise that the early the women presents the better the prognosis. They should not delay but come early for any lump or even a concern,” he said.

Malefoasi further adds by explaining the pre-warning signs of cervical cancers. One of key signs is abnormal bleeding. 

He stressed this can be confirmed when a woman with abnormal visual inspections of the cervix undergo pap smear. Pap smear is stained and visualised for abnormal cells- carcinogenic (histology confirmation).

Malefoasi said regarding the treatment for cervical cancer it can be through surgical, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

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