Early detection of cancer provides the best opportunity to stop its spread while providing an opportunity for early treatment of the disease. Consultant Oncologist with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Owen Gabriel, continues to advocate for regular breast examination for increased protection.

“Well I am so happy we are here with this mammography machine because over the years we have not had access to a mammogram machine in the public sector and this is now an opportunity for women in St. Lucia, young and old to use this machine for prevention and control of breast cancer.  We know that breast cancer is treatable if we diagnose early. So early detection is one of the things that will help us treat somebody and cure somebody if they have breast cancer.”

Screening mammograms have been show to be useful in reducing the incidence and prevalence of breast cancer. He advised women that though there is a slight degree of discomfort as with many other procedures in medicine the tests are completely safe and necessary.

“However we understand that once you are able to do this in a normal frequency as determined by your healthcare provider there are no harmful effects at all.  Some people are concerned about radiation exposure but we know that only unnecessary or excess exposure will lead to problems. This mammogram machine is safe and I can guarantee that every woman who uses it properly with the kind of frequency, once a year or once every two years, you do your mammogram machine there will be no harmful effects in the long run.”

Dr. Gabriel reference the unfortunate downside to not performing regular breast examinations.

“The majority of women who do not participate in screening and early diagnosis techniques and procedures end up presenting in very late stages where you have breast cancers that look like tumors and sores on the breast and at that time it’s harder to cure these women and they go through a lot of pain throughout their treatment plan because they’ve not participated in screening and early diagnosis using a mammogram or breast self examination.”

He said women and men should follow three main tips during breast cancer awareness month. Get educated with the right health information about the disease. Do regular screening, particularly if you are at risk for a disease such as cancer.

“Finally early diagnosis by doing things and in this case it is breast self examination so that you can identify a lump as early as possible and then you can see your healthcare provider who will administer the right treatment.”

The theme for this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month is “Be a breast friend; Early detection for improved protection.”