19 May 2010

Tonga's Breast Cancer Society says getting people to seek help is a challenge

10:26 am on 19 May 2010

Tonga's Breast Cancer Society says getting Tongan women to seek professional medical help and to talk openly about it remains an ongoing challenge.

Society member Mary McCoy says that the society has been running ongoing public awareness campaigns on a topic many Tongan women still find embarrassing to talk about, let alone go for a medical examination.

She says sadly the past deaths of women who have died from breast cancer in Tonga could have been prevented if action was taken sooner and self examination is key.

"It's because they don't seek treatment or they go to the Tongan healers and those treatments just don't work for breast cancer and so what we're trying to do is to encourage them to go to the hospital. We've done ads specifically for TV and radio getting them to seek treatment that way so that they have a chance of beating the disease."

Mary McCoy says there is even a women's only clinic day at the hospital on Wednesdays for health checks with a female doctor.

Unfortunately she says there's no mammograms available for patients in Tonga yet.