BREAST CANCER MAJOR PAPUA NEW GUINEA DISEASE

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By Jacqueline Havis

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 18, 1998 - Post Courier)--- Breast cancer is fast becoming a significant killer disease among Papua New Guinean women, a workshop of surgeons was told yesterday.

The Head of the Surgery Division of the University of PNG’s medical faculty, Professor David Watters, said breast cancer ranks as the second major killer of women, while cancer of the uterus (or cancer of the cervix) tops the list.

While the medical profession has yet to determine the precise causes of breast cancer in PNG women, Professor Watters said one of the factors could be the result of modernization and civilization.

The workshop, organized under the AusAID sponsored program MONAHP (Medical Officers and Nurses Allied Health Program), is the first of several this year to update surgeons and medical registrars on selected medical issues. The topic for yesterday’s session was "Breast Cancer Uupdate."

Professor Watters said women between the ages of 30 and 50 years are often susceptible but some victims are much younger. He noted that women often sought medical help only after the disease reached an advanced stage.

Professor Watters said, "it is the younger population --in the child bearing age-- that is becoming affected. We (doctors) can do something to help but most times we cannot (very much) because women are coming too late to hospitals." He said women who suspect problems with their breasts must seek medical advice quickly.

Meanwhile, visiting Sydney-based surgeon and President of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Professor Bruce Barraclough, said in comparison, Australian women tend to contract breast cancer later in life.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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