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Be a Pink Ambassador

Despite cases of breast cancer falling to “the lowest number recorded in years” in 2012, there is “no cause for celebration,” said Health Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin yesterday. Proclaiming the month of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Minister Gordon-Pamplin said “the good news is that [breast cancer] survival rates continue to climb — largely due to early detection.”

Speaking at the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre on Point Finger Road, the Minister echoed this years Cancer Awareness Month's message, encouraging “everyone to ‘Be a Pink Ambassador' by sharing with their family and friends the importance of early detection.”

While the emphasis on early detection has always been a part of breast cancer awareness campaigns, the message can't be stressed enough, said Carmen Lodge, a breast cancer survivor still undergoing treatment. Ms Lodge, 44, was diagnosed in February this year, and by June had already undergone a double mastectomy and chemotherapy.

“I was actually diagnosed early,” said Ms Lodge, an accountant. “To be honest, I do my regular check-ups and I was supposed to have one in November of 2012 but I kept putting it off.”

It wasn't until multiple phone calls urging her to come in for her exam that Ms Lodge finally gave in.

“I finally went the following year in February. They found something within just a year of me having my last exam. That's the message I would give to other women: just get it done. In less than a year it can happen.”

Ms Lodge's testimony to annual screenings was echoed emphatically by Dr David Green, Bermuda's only Breast Specialist Radiologist.

While advances in breast cancer treatment modalities have also played a role in the drop in reported cases and rise in survival rates, the frequency in which Bermudian women are screened is also playing a role, said Dr Green.

“Back in the UK where I did most of my training, there's a three year interval between breast screens. That's what is recommended. In Europe most breast screening units suggest two years as the interval, and when I first came here I thought maybe one year was too frequent, but in fact we've seen a number of cancers that have cropped up in-between annual screens that weren't present on the previous screen, and now maybe 6-7 months later they are present. So they're growing very rapidly. So if we'd been screening every two or three years, the cancer could have progressed to a very advanced stage by the time we caught it. An annual screen is the way to go.”

Pink ambassadors: Minister of Health & Seniors Patricia Gordon-Pamplin speaks during the opening ceremony for the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, at the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre yesterday. (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published October 02, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 02, 2013 at 9:40 am)

Be a Pink Ambassador

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