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The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), on Thursday (March 7), opened a new mammography unit at its Women’s Imaging Centre, boasting advanced technology for the detection of breast cancer.

Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, welcomed the launch of the $78 million unit, noting that it will help in increasing the diagnosis of breast cancer at its earliest stage.

He said that the unit has an advanced mammography machine that can test up to 25 patients per day.

Dr. Tufton said that the unit marks an important advancement in the fight against cancers, and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) more generally.

“The University Hospital of the West Indies is leading the charge in …spotting where the technology is going (and) keeping up with that technology,” he said.

Minister of Science, Energy, and Technology, Hon. Fayval Williams, said that the opening of the new unit represents an important development for women in Jamaica.

“Today is an exciting day for me. I’m over 40 and I do my breast screenings and so it’s reassuring to know that we have leading-edge technology in Jamaica. It can detect cancers, which are otherwise hidden and not visible to some of the current technology that we have,” she noted.

Dr. Derria Cornwall of the UHWI, in giving an overview, explained that “we have a 3D mammogram unit, which is state-of-the-art, where we can see the breast, not as overlapping shadows, but as layers and layers and layers. So we see each layer where no abnormality is able to hide with 3D unit.”

She said the machine is of first-world standard and is the most advanced in Jamaica.

Dr. Cornwall noted the importance of early detection in successfully treating breast cancer.

“The five-year survival rate for finding early breast cancer is 98 per cent, almost 100 per cent. The treatment is less expensive; the cost of the treatment is lower; the cost to the family…is lower. The cost to the country, to the Government and everyone is lower when cancer is found early. If you find cancer late, it can deplete your bank account; it can zero you. It can take millions to treat a cancer if found late,” she stressed.

Dr. Cornwall said that 43 out of every 100,000 women in Jamaica suffer with breast cancer. Additionally, the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer in Jamaica is one out of 21 women.