Editorial comment – Early detection is important

General surgeon CWM Hospital Dr Ilaitia Delasau (left) and Neurologist Dr Craig Kurunawai at CWMH after the breast cancer lecture yesterday. Picture: RAMA

AS we look ahead to Pinktober, next month, perhaps we should be reminded about the importance of early detection in the fight against cancer.

A surgeon has urged Fijian women to seek early medical attention if they believe they have breast cancer.

Our report on Page 6 today quotes Colonial War Memorial Hospital consultant surgeon Dr Ilaitia Delasau as saying since returning from New Zealand, he had dealt with 50 cases of breast cancer over the past three months.

The majority, he revealed, were in their late stages.

“I’ve asked them ‘why do you come in so late?'” he said.

“A number of women responded saying ‘I thought it was just a boil, it wasn’t painful so I didn’t see the need to come in’.

“It’s really heart wrenching to see because most of them are well-educated women in their 30s and 40s,” he said.

Since the women were presenting themselves to the hospital at a very late stage, he said, surgeons were limited in what they could do for them.

“We can see that we can cure them if they present early,” Dr Delasau said.

That is the key, it seems. In October 2017, Fiji Cancer Society board member Makrava Wilson highlighted an important point.

Seventy-nine per cent of deaths in the country, he said at the time, were because of non-communicable diseases.

However, his next statement pointed straight at a disease that was then ranked the third leading cause of death in the country. Breast cancer was the number one killer among women in the country.

Given the high incidence and destructive nature of breast cancer, he pointed out that early prevention and treatment of this disease was a high priority.

Having come back from the brink of death, cancer survivors are embracing major lifestyle changes.

There is added value placed on family time and being positive can make a difference, they say.

To have a loved one suffering from cancer can be emotionally and financially draining.

We do take a lot of things for granted. Sometimes we do need to be reminded about the importance of awareness, and being proactive.

Complacency can be bad for our health.

But enough of all the talk of doom and gloom! People do survive!

That is a positive aspect of this fight.

It is critical, however, that we place great importance on early detection.

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