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Fiji Time: 1:24 AM on Wednesday 17 September

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Cancer rate alarms

Daniel Naidu
Tuesday, October 15, 2013

FIJI'S survival rate for breast cancer sits at around 30 to 40 per cent, according to the consultant anaesthesia and consultant intensivist at the Suva Private Hospital, Dr Veneriki Raiwalui.

And Dr Raiwalui notes the Ministry of Health always faces a challenge in increasing accessibility and coverage in screening women for breast cancer.

But he said women should become aware of self-examination techniques.

"Most patients present themselves at a later stage of disease, which is either terminal or where any therapy would be futile," Dr Raiwalui said.

He said a much more organised and robust system in dealing with breast cancer contributed to the high survival rate in Australia.

According to the website body and soul, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer in Australia is 89 per cent, making it one of the most survivable cancers in the long term.

And breast cancer survivor USP Professor Virginia Tilley vouched for this saying people in Australia tend to have more faith in the medical system compared to Fiji.

"In Fiji, it is a bit like 'you're going to the hospital, you're going to die' mentality," she said.

Both Dr Raiwalui and Prof Tilley agree that ignorance is also a major issue.

"Even on campus, I get misinformation sent to me.

"They would say I don't need to worry about these drugs, just have lemon peel, or pawpaw," Prof Tilley said.

CWM Hospital consultant general surgeon Josese Turagava has said that as much as 75 per cent of women diagnosed with breast cancer sought alternative treatment with traditional medicine.


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