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Saint Lucian men encouraged to examine their breasts for cancer

By Gideon Aurelien

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From left:  Tench-Norbal, Francois, and Dupre.

(SNO) — This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, however this time around men will have to play a role, as the Ministry of Health and Wellness is calling on them to come in and have their breasts examined as they too can get breast cancer.

Janelle Alexander Dupre (family life educator), Michelle Francois (national epidemiologist ag.) and Sharon Tench-Norbal (family nurse practitioner) told a press conference on October 4 that while they need more women to be aware of the importance of early detection of breast cancer — since breast cancer is ranked as the number one cause of cancer deaths in Saint Lucia since 2006 but mostly affecting women — men should have their breasts examined as well.

“Breast self- examination is not solely for women. We are encouraging the men to get their breasts examined because men do get breast cancer,” Tench-Norbal said.

According to Tench-Norbal, while prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among men in Saint Lucia and the region, there are other types of cancers men can get, and breast cancer is one of them.

“We want men to come in and get their breasts examined so we could teach them to examine their breasts on their own,” she said.

However, the women from the Ministry of Health expressed a unified voice when registering their inability to talk much on the subject of breast cancer in men, due to the lack of a survey on the subject in the country.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health will be going a bit further this month, than in previous Breast Cancer Awareness Months, by targeting not only women between the ages of 25 and 50, but younger “because they too can get cancer, “ Dupre said.

The Bureau of Health, for this month, will be partnering with certain business houses and the Saint Lucia Cancer Society to show how men and women can perform self-examinations of their breasts.

“Early detection of breast cancer is our best defense. It could reduce our mortality rate, our morbidity rate,” noted Tench-Norbal, adding that the examination of the breast is to determine any abnormality in the lymph nodes.

Francois sounded a somber note that should really push men and women to get their breasts examined by adding to the fact that since breast cancer is ranked as the number one cause of cancer deaths among women in Saint Lucia, as far back as 12 years ago, the trend shows that the numbers continue to increase.

“Studies have found that the risk of breast cancer increases with age and that most of the breast cancer cases are diagnosed beyond the age of 50,” she said, pointing out as well that although similar findings have been observed in Saint Lucia, this does not mean it is restricted to 50-year-olds and up.

“We have recorded cases of breast cancer in the 40s, 30s, and some even in their 20s. So it is something we have to flag, something we need to address,” Francois said.

According to her, cancer alone accounted for almost 20 percent of all the deaths in Saint Lucia in the years 2014 and 2015.


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