Samoa celebrates Pinktober – Breast Cancer Awareness month

Samoa has joined the world in promoting October, internationally celebrated as Pinktober or Breast cancer awareness month.

Dr. Leao Tuitama, Minister of Health and Patron of the Samoa Cancer Society is re-emphasising the need for early diagnosis as the key to maximizing chances for surviving cancer.

In launching the awareness month earlier this week, Dr. Tuitama noted that the World Health Organisation recognizes that at the global level a major problem is that many cancer cases are diagnosed too late. 

“Even in countries with optimal health systems and services, many cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat successfully,” he continued.

“It is therefore important for us all to remember that early diagnosis is the key to maximizing chances for surviving cancer.”

To that extend, the Health Minister is urging local residents to get screening tests regularly whenever and wherever possible to ensure early diagnosis of breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate cancers and other forms of cancer.

The health minister encouraged self- examination for breast cancer and forevery woman to learn about the signs and symptoms in order to keep alert to any possible breast cancer.

He also encouraged the mothers to urge their daughters from within the home environment on the importance of screening and self-examination for breast cancer.

“I wish to emphasise that breast cancer is becoming more and more common in Samoa and every girl and woman is encouraged to keep vigilant. Early detection can mean surviving breast cancer,” he said.

“A significant proportion of cancers including breast can be cured, by surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy if they are detected early,” he explained.

The Samoa Cancer Society in the meantime has reported that 99 out of cancer patients referred to them over the past 12 months, 21 were diagnosed with breast cancer and a further 11 patients have been presented with breast lumps and masses for further investigation. 

It is also noted that 17 of these breast cancers are late diagnosis at stages three and four, with only 4 diagnosed as early.

In conjunction with the Pinktober launch, the Apia Town Clock war memorial is painted pink with government’s blessings.

 The ANZ Bank has also revealed the bank’s new pink ATMs, which were re-branded in support of the Pinktober cause.

The annual Pinktober Campaign dedicates the month of October to raising awareness on breast cancer, as well as advocating for cancer patients.

The Samoa Cancer Society will conduct community and workplace outreaches during October to further educate people on the disease.

Through their ‘Vave’ Campaign, S.C.S plans to push the key messages of early detection and seeking early intervention, within communities.

Samoa Cancer Society’s Pinktober Campaign was made possible with support from ANZ Bank (Samoa), Bluesky Samoa, Colgate-Palmolive, TV3, SSAB, Siva Afi Designs, Miss Samoa Pageant Winners Alumni, WT Media and Events, Marketing and Distribution(EMD).

Photo caption:  L-R Lauaki Jason Annandale, President of S.C.S, Shelley Burich, S.C.S Executive Officer, Minister of Health, Hon Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama, Bernie Poort, ANZ Country Manager, Lanuola Tuitama and Papalii Alexandra Iakopo.