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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 19, 2000 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Breast cancer is the second biggest killer of women in Papua New Guinea.

Public hospitals estimate 2,300 annual cases of breast cancer, saying the numbers could increase.

President of the Papua New Guinea Medical Society and a gynecologist with Port Moresby General Hospital, Dr. Mathias Sapuri, said many women who die of the disease are not recorded because they do not seek treatment at hospitals and die in villages.

Many of these women, he said, are influenced by western life and have high-fat diets.

"Breast cancer is associated with excess amount of estrogen that stimulates breast development and breast feeding," he said. "PNG women in rural areas are not normally fat, but they become fat because of westernization. This stimulates the development of cancer."

He said they could also get uterine cancer.

He said women who do not have children are more susceptible to getting breast cancer.

"Compared to a woman who is pregnant regularly and may have five to six children, during her nine months of pregnancy she is protected from breast cancer," he said.

He said women with children are exposed to longer periods of estrogen.

He said it is important for women to do regular self-examinations once every two months to find out if they have breast cancer.

Women who detect lumps during self-examination should consult doctors as soon as possible.

Dr. Sapuri said breast cancer is a deadly disease that could easily spread to the lungs, liver, bones and the brain.

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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