Breast cancer on the rise in western Ja – Fray
WESTERN BUREAU: ALTHOUGH SCREENING for breast cancer is crucial, Dr Delroy Fray, clinical coordinator at the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), argues that more attention should be paid to raising public awareness in order to reduce the...
ALTHOUGH SCREENING for breast cancer is crucial, Dr Delroy Fray, clinical coordinator at the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), argues that more attention should be paid to raising public awareness in order to reduce the disease’s prevalence and enhance its treatment.
Fray said there has been a dramatic increase in the number of cases identified, citing data from the WRHA that showed that between January 1 and December 31, 2022, doctors diagnosed 134 breast cancer cases, with another 62 cases up to September 5, this year.
“Over a 21-month period, we have diagnosed 196 cases of breast cancer in western Jamaica, and these are cancer cases that were sent to our laboratory at the Cornwall Regional Hospital,” Fray said while speaking at the media launch of the 14th annual Kiwanis Breast Cancer Awareness Run/Walk held at Deja Resorts last Thursday.
Breast cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related death among Jamaican women, and despite global advances in breast cancer screening and management, breast cancer remains a major public health challenge and represents a public health priority in Jamaica.
The Kiwanis Club of Providence-Montego Bay Breast Cancer Awareness Run/Walk/Wheelchair is held yearly during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year, it will take place on Sunday, October 29.
Fray noted that the figures could be much higher because there are some private laboratories that would have captured data that have not yet been added to the statistics.
“If you should analyse that data, we are seeing nine cases per month being diagnosed; now that is very sad,” the WRHA clinical coordinator said.
Dr Fray, in emphasising the importance of raising awareness about breast cancer prevention, pointed out that it is preventable, noting that a genetic profiling test (saliva test) conducted can reveal if an individual is predisposed to particular cancer, giving them time to take measures to avoid it.
“The studies have shown that we have spent a lot of time talking about breast cancer screening, but the emphasis should really be on breast cancer awareness. Awareness is more impactful than the screening itself,” he argued.
“In the event that breast cancer is detected, women can undergo a skin-sparing mastectomy to prevent the cancer from surfacing,” Fray told reporters, Kiwanians, and their guests.
The noted medical practitioner alluded to the improvements in the treatment and care of patients, resulting in a decline in breast cancer mortality rates despite the increase in cases, and revealing that the hospital is better equipped with trained oncologists, pathologists, and a Radiation Oncology Department.
Fray explained that through methods such as regular self-examination, maintaining a good diet, and exercise, women are able to reduce their stress levels, which have been identified as one of the key causes of new and relapsed breast cancer cases.