The PNG Cancer Foundation again conducted a very informative workshop today at the Royal Papua Yacht Club in partnership with JM Oceans Avenue. The workshop was held to make Papua New Guineans aware of this ‘silent killer’ in Papua New Guinea.
If you didn’t know, 1 out of 10 deaths is caused by cancer. In PNG, the highest killer is cervical cancer, followed by breast cancer, then mouth cancer. Females are not the only ones who can get breast cancer, men also get cancer because men also have breasts, they just have less breast tissue.
Speaking at the workshop were two final year Medical students from the University of Papua New Guinea; Sonia Padae and Lois Booker.
Lois spoke on cervical cancer. In her presentation she stated that cervical cancer is caused by an STI called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). It causes changes to the cell lining in parts of the human body which eventually leads to cancer.
Our immune systems are, for now, the only thing that fights HPV and completely removes it from our system, therefore having a healthy and strong immune system is important.
Sonia, on the other hand, educated everyone on breast cancer which is the second largest killer for cancers after cervical cancer. Sonia gave three easy steps to do for a self-examination.
Firstly, Sonia states, you look for anything out of the ordinary, anything that does not look normal around your breast area, rashes, sores etc. Secondly, is to feel; gently press around your breast and your armpits for abnormal lumps. Thirdly, squeeze; yes you squeeze your breasts to see if there is any abnormal discharge pus or blood or both. If you find any of those symptoms it is advisable that you see a medical officer as soon as possible.
The workshop was an eye opening experience for most that attended.
Theresa Uara, who attended the workshop, was very pleased. She learnt a lot in a short period of time.
“Most of us just ignore the leaflets and pamphlets that are being passed around, and workshops like this one help us better understand cancer and how to prevent it,” said Theresa. She encouraged PNGCF to do more of these workshops because, she believes, it does make a difference.
The workshop also mentioned that regular paps smear tests are recommended.
The final year medical students both stated that early detection does save lives and money. “Take care of your body, eat healthy and exercise regularly, this helps a lot in fighting cancer and other lifestyle diseases,” said Sonia.
Hailey Chown, the Marketing and Fundraising Manager of PNGCF, mentioned that pap smear tests can be done upon appointments at the Lawes Road Well Women’s Clinic for K30.
These tests are for women to detect cancer cells at an early stage. The Well Women’s Clinic offers a visual inspection with acetic acid or the VIA test, which is basically using vinegar to find out if there’s any presence of cancer cells on your cervix. The VIA test is done for K2.
All women are encouraged to visit the clinic and get checked. If anyone has questions , cancer related, please feel free to get in touch with PNGCF on their Facebook page.