CHARLESTOWN, Nevis - AS the Federation joined the rest of the world on Saturday (Oct. 24) to recognised World Breast Cancer Awareness Day, concerns are still being raised about whether women are taking the necessary steps to know their status.
In her speech to recognise the day, the Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration, Hazel Brandy-Williams, reminded that despite it being only one day, awareness surrounding the day provides an opportunity to focus on how the ailment impacts those in the community.
The Minister disclosed that data has shown that 1.7 million new cases were diagnosed and 522,000 deaths occurred across the globe.
So, what the data showed about women in St. Kitts and Nevis?
Minister Brandy-Williams revealed that data from the Ministry of Health pathology lab showed 25 new cases in 2019 and seven new cases recorded in June this year, with affected individuals ranging in age from their early 30s to late 70s.
“Breast cancer remains the most common cancer amongst women worldwide, both in developed and developing countries,” the Health Minister informed.
While pointing out that breast cancer is no respecter of persons and could affect both men and women, she alluded to the fact that “although there is no sure way to prevent the occurrence of breast cancer, there are things that can be done to reduce the risk”.
Having a healthy diet, regular exercise and avoidance of unhealthy habits, such as drinking and smoking, are some of the changes the Minister believes that could reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
“The fight against breast cancer therefore starts with healthy lifestyle changes and early detection through screening; breast cancer screening, which includes breast self-exam, clinical breast examination and mammography.
“If breast cancer is detected and diagnosed early, there is a good chance that it can be cured, thus improving the outcome and survival rate. On the other hand, late breast cancer detection and diagnosis often result in poor prognosis.
“What can we do as women? As a woman, it is vital that we check our breasts regularly. It is also important to be more familiar with the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and learn what changes to look for. Visit your healthcare provider, whether at the health center, hospital or private office, for further screening and diagnosis. Remember early detection saves lives,” the Minister explained.
Against that backdrop, the Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs on Nevis commended the efforts of the local breast cancer foundations in the Federation, namely Pink Lily Cancer Care, Essence of Hope and Reach for Recovery SKN, whose campaign have raised funds to help increase awareness of the dreaded disease and provide support in the way of covering the cost of treatment.