Saint Lucia: The Health Ministry of the nation shared statement on the occasion of Breast Cancer Awareness month
The statement by the ministry is as follows:
The month is observed from October 1st to 31st every year. It is a time when all sectors come together to raise awareness of the impact of breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer globally and affects 2.3 million women. In 2020, worldwide breast cancer was responsible for 685 000 deaths. As of 2021, there were 7.8 million women who were diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer in Saint Lucia is the most common cancer found in women and contributes significantly to the years of productivity lost due to disease and death.
The risk factors for breast cancer include:
• Having a history of breast cancer.
• The abuse of alcohol.
• Having the first period before 12 years.
• Having a first child post-age of 30 years.
• Hormone use and increasing age.
Although more common after 50 years, breast cancer can occur at earlier ages and also in men.
Some factors which appear to protect women from breast cancer include the following: physical activity, breastfeeding, earlier childbirth, later first period and earlier menopause.
Breast Cancer Awareness month is also a time to applaud the efforts of so many who have gone before us in raising awareness to promote early detection and prevent deaths.
Women like Betty Ford, wife of former president Gerald Ford, who was a breast cancer survivor, paved the way for many others as she used her influence to promote the importance of education and early detection in the fight against breast cancer globally.
We especially wish to applaud the efforts of our cancer NGOs, Faces of Cancer, the Saint Lucia Cancer Society and many others, as they continue to make strides in educating Saint Lucians and offering breast examinations and free mammograms.
Breast Cancer Awareness month is also a time to celebrate with our many breast cancer survivors; it is a solemn time to remember those brave women and men whom we have lost to breast cancer. It is a time when we encourage women and men to take charge of their breasts and overall health.
We can fight breast cancer together by raising awareness, educating, and empowering women and men to seek early preventive health care. As a Ministry, we aim to ensure that the relevant services for screening, accurate diagnosis and treatment are available, affordable, and accessible to all.