Saint Lucia observes Breast Cancer Awareness

by Glen Simon, Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health and Wellness, via the Bureau of Health Education and the Community Nursing Service have planned various health promotion activities during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The October observance focuses on the importance of breast health, and calls on women and men to get annual breast screenings done by a healthcare professional.

Natasha Lloyd-Felix, Director of the Bureau of Health Education, said the majority of activities planned for 2017 target business places.

“This year we targeted workplaces because we know that within workplaces we can reach a cross section of persons. That way, we are able to engage both men and women of all strata in society, who can in turn become advocates of breast and overall health amongst their family members, their communities and their peers,” Mrs. Felix said.

“So what we’ve been doing is hosting education and awareness sessions, and also hosting mini health expositions and health fairs within workplaces because we know that this is always an effective entry point,” she continued. “We have found that when persons access these outreach activities, they are able to feel more comfortable in asking questions, and we are able to give them the information they need, and link them to health facilities so they can effectively engage their health practitioners.”

The Ministry of Health has designated Oct. 19 as National Breast Screening Day. In commemoration, all wellness centers around the island will offer breast screening services for both men and women.

Assistant Principal Nursing Officer, Julietta Frederick-Cassius, stressed the importance of early examinations.

“The services for women include breast exams and pap smears, and for men there are prostrate screening services,” Nurse Cassius explained. “All of the Health and Wellness Centres on the island in all communities offer those cancer screening services. We know prevention is the best cure, so early detection is very important. So by simply going to a health centre to have a clinical breast exam done, to have the nurse or any other healthcare provider examine your breast, or to do a pap smear or examine the prostate is very important in detecting cancers in men and women. On Oct. 19, all of our Wellness Centres will be conducting breast exams for anyone who walks in, both men and women.”

The health official added that while monthly breast self-examinations are encouraged, it is important to have an annual examination done with a healthcare provider.

The Breast Cancer Awareness Month theme is "Early Detection for Improved Protection."

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