October is designated as ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’, worldwide. Cancer ranks amongst the leading three Non Communicable Diseases (NCD’s) in Sri Lanka and is on the rise with over 15,000-20,000 new cases detected every year.
Breast Cancer has the highest incidence amongst all cancers and is the leading cancer amongst females in Sri Lanka.
Eleven years ago, the Rotary Club of Colombo, launched their life saving project for screening and early detection of cancer with a focus on early detection of breast cancer, as well as cervical cancer & oral cancer.
Screening is carried out at the National Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Centre, situated at No: 516 1/1 , Elvitigala Mw. The Centre was set up by the Club and, is operated by the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) of the Ministry of Health. This is presently the only national facility dedicated for screening, early detection and prevention of cancer, offering services entirely free of charge. The Centre is supported by Corporate Partner, Dialog Axiata PLC.
Activities are also carried out for the prevention of cancer by building awareness of the need for early detection to save lives.
An awareness building booklet ‘The Road to Cancer Prevention’ printed in all 3 languages and with a particular focus on breast cancer was distributed through the Rotary network comprising of 65 Clubs. The booklet is also being made available mainly in Sinhala and Tamil, to the 700 Well Woman Clinics island wide operated by the Ministry of Health.
As at end August 2015, approximately 42,000 individuals, mainly females, have been screened at the Centre, and over 10,000 cases identified needing further investigation.
The Rotary Club of Colombo is also working with NCCP to extend screening and early detection facilities
The Centre operates a comprehensive cancer screening facility complete with Mammography Machine and Ultra Sound Scanner donated by the Rotary Club of Birmingham Alabama, USA. A radiographer is also available at the Centre to operate this facility. Cervical Cancer is screened through Cyto screening and Colposcopy machine donated by WHO Head of Cancer Screening Section, International Agency for Research on Cancer. This facility is operated by a visiting VOG.The Centre also has an oral cancer screening unit for oral cancer detection, in view of this cancer having the highest incidence amongst males.
Steps are underway to relocate the Centre at a permanent , more spacious building, presently under construction.
This will enable the Centre to handle the rapidly growing numbers requiring screening, as well as carry out more comprehensive screening and awareness building activities for prevention.
The Rotary Club of Colombo is also working with NCCP to extend screening and early detection facilities to the outlying regions to facilitate the public, particularly the less privileged, to have greater accessibility to this life saving service.