The Ministry of Health & Wellness is encouraging women to do yearly mammograms and regular self-checks to ensure early detection of breast cancer.
Programme Development Officer in the Ministry’s Non-Communicable Disease and Injuries Prevention Unit, Dr. Cathi-Ann Williams, said that the mammograms should start at age 40.
She said that breast self-examinations should be done monthly, about five days after the period.
“Should they find an abnormality, a lump, or abnormal discharge from the nipple, redness or swelling of the area, they should reach out to their doctor or health centre and get a clinical examination, and any other necessary investigation,” she advised.
Noting that breast cancer is the leading cancer affecting women in Jamaica, she said that early detection can save lives and reduce stress and trauma.
October is being observed as Breast Cancer Month, and the Ministry is spearheading several activities to increase awareness of the disease and how persons can reduce their risk.
The Ministry has produced guidelines and videos on how to do the self-examination, which can be found at www.moh.gov.jm.
In partnership with the Jamaica Cancer Society, the Ministry is encouraging the wearing of pink on Fridays, throughout the month of October. Also, several virtual discussions are taking place via the Ministry’s social media platforms.
Topics being examined include the relationship between body esteem, mental health and emotional recovery; breast cancer patients after mastectomy; and there is a special discourse with men to the topic: ‘Breast reconstruction for me, what I need to know? How do I support my spouse after mastectomy?’
Dr. Williams noted that one per cent of breast cancer cases involve men, and they too should be looking out for lumps and the other symptoms and seek medical advice where necessary.