Cancer Awareness, Crown Plaza Friday October 8th 2010

Cancer of the cervix remains the number one killer of women in PNG and the incidence is one of the highest in the world.   
The Women Doctors Association (WDA) will be hosting a breakfast at the Crown Plaza on Friday 8th October to raise awareness on cervical cancer. You are invited to support this cause be way of purchasing a table for 10 women (your friends or staff in your organisation) to attend this breakfast session.   
The cost of a table is K2000 and will include breakfast, an opportunity to have a Well Woman Check and an appointment to have a pap smear done at a participating medical centre. The keynote speaker will be Dr Jacob Morewaya, Head of Pathology Division, Medical school, UPNG. Dr Morewaya is a pathologist specialising in histopathology, the branch of science involved in diagnosing cancers. 

Cancer is a global health concern. In Papua New Guinea it is the third leading cause of death which affects all age groups and both sexes. An AusAID review in 2001 reported that there are at least 15,000 new cases of cancer per year with more than 80% of these cases resulting in death.  Recent statistics show a rising trend in the incidences of cancer generally and particularly with breast cancer and cancer of the cervix in women. 
Whilst breast cancer awareness receives corporate attention and public awareness, unfortunately cervical cancer lacks the attention and awareness as a major health problem affecting women. Cancer of the cervix remains the number one killer of women in PNG and the incidence is one of the highest in the world. The most recent statistics show the incidence of cancer of the cervix to be 8.8 /100,000. This means that in a population of 100,000 women, approximately 9 women will suffer from cervical cancer, this being a conservative estimate. 

Cancer of the cervix can be prevented through screening of women by undergoing a Pap smear test every 2 years. Early signs and changes of cancer can be detected and then treated accordingly.  Such is the nature of the disease that women are unable to notice the cancer without having a pap smear and regular checks. Unfortunately the majority of our women do not undergo screening and when they do seek medical attention, the disease is in its advanced stage when very little can be done to treat the cancer. 
Every year about 80% of cervical cancer sufferers die due to late presentation and the unavailability of treatment options leaving behind young families without a mother and or wife.  The WDA are working towards developing a National Screening Program to address this problem. This will eventually require the involvement of the National Department of Health and relevant stake holders. At present there is very little awareness on cancer of the cervix and the importance of screening largely through ignorance and lack of information made available to the public. This was confirmed at the recent Medical Society Symposium in Wewak. 
The situation is further made difficult because of the cultural aspects of discussing women’s health problems with a male health worker. Women are more comfortable to see a female health worker or doctor when it comes to women’s health.  We as an association therefore believe that we have the moral and professional duty to address this problem and are therefore taking this initiative to raise awareness of this easily preventable disease which can be a likened to the “silent killer”.  Donations in cash or kind are most welcome. Cheques should be made payable to “PNG Women Doctors Association” or by direct bank deposit to Bank of South Pacific Port Moresby Branch., Account No. 1000 587 554,   We trust that you will support this cause and offer your female employees an opportunity to take charge of their health.  For further information or queries please feel free to contact us.   
                                             Yours in Health
               Dr Evelyn K Lavu MBBS MMed (path) FRACP President.



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