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Eleven women referred to New Zealand for breast cancer treatment

Thursday 3 November 2022 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in

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Eleven women referred to New Zealand for breast cancer treatment
Acknowledging ‘Pink October’ with breakfast. Back left: Esther Strickland, Naomi Manavaroa, Mareta Tarau (Manihiki Island council), Myra Tatakura, Margaret Numanga, Liz Nootai. Front Left: Dean Kapi Tangata, CIFWA Patron Nikki Rattle, Rosie Blake and Merle Pukerua. 22102701

Eight hundred and nine (809) women attended the four-week mammogram breast screening programme which was held throughout August until September 13 at the Rarotonga hospital.

Te Marae Ora nurse Tohoa Cummings, who has been with the breast screening programme since 2011, said: “Mammograms are successful in the early detection for breast cancer.”

Of the 809 women, 5 per cent required further mammographic views plus additional ultrasound, said Cummings. Fourteen women had ultrasound guided biopsy procedures.

Eleven women have been “immediately” referred to New Zealand for further treatment – most of these women had already been referred by Te Marae Ora – Cummings said.

Sixteen women are waiting for their biopsy results.

Forty-six women from the Pa Enua islands of Aitutaki, Mangaia, Mitiaro, Mauke, Atiu and Penrhyn attended the mammogram screenings and one of these women required further procedures.

October is known worldwide as the month in which actions and awareness related to the prevention and early diagnosis of breast cancer takes place.

To wrap up “Pink October”, the Cook Islands Family Welfare (CIFWA) in partnership with the Au Vaine Cancer Project (for survivors) hosted a breakfast fundraiser event last month.

The executive director of CIFWA, Rongo File said the breakfast was held to celebrate and acknowledge breast cancer month.

Three amazing breast cancers survivors, Nga Teao-Papatua, Myra Tatakura and Merle Pukerua courageously shared their stories which was “quite emotional”, said File.

The guest panel was moderated by CIFWA patron Nikki Rattle. Former Cook Islands consul general Rosie Blake also spoke about the medical referrals for women to New Zealand for appointments and treatment.

The four-week Breast Screening Mammogram programme is scheduled to take place to fit around Te Maeva Nui Constitution Celebrations in July, 2023, to allow women from the northern and southern groups islands can attend.