As early detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer are key for better outcomes, the importance of increasing awareness and encouraging positive action among Sri Lankan women is vital.
The Asiri Breast Care Centre, located at Asiri Central Hospital, Colombo, since it was established, has continuously advocated awareness on Breast Cancer, emphasizing the importance of early detection.
Actively promoting self-breast examination and routine screening, the Asiri Breast Care Centre offers a haven through free consultancy for women who have any breast related concerns.
To-date the Centre has provided over 400 free consultations and takes pride in the positive feedback received with comments such as ‘very kindly offers this service’, ‘a very useful service’, ‘a good service for women’ and aims to continue to provide the best care possible.
As the commonest cancer in women in Sri Lanka and incidence rising, doctors warn that changing lifestyles, modernization, shifting food habits, smoking, alcohol, use of oral contraception, undergoing hormone replacement therapy for long periods, delay in having children and minimum time spent breast feeding as probable risk factors.
During the initial consultation the doctors at the Centre, discuss all possible risk factors with the patient, conduct a comprehensive examination and recommend mammography and/or ultrasound screening, if no such diagnostic tests have been performed in the recent past and are deemed necessary for any conclusive decisions. In the event of a diagnosis that requires further attention a multi-disciplinary team sits together to decide on and propose the most ideal treatment plan.
“The service is free. They come for consultation where we advise them and work from there,” noted Dr. Himaru Wirithamulla, General Surgeon at the Asiri Breast Care Centre.
Consultants at the Centre urge all women to adopt breast self-exams as a regular healthy habit. They also advise mothers that it is important to pass on this knowledge and habit to their daughters.
Patients’ who visit the Centre for a mammogram and or ultrasound scan whose results indicate some abnormality, are also invited to meet with the specialists to discuss their reports.
With the hope of promoting health and wellness among women, galvanizing them towards breast cancer awareness and screening, especially for those over 40 years of age, the Centre offers special rates on mammography screening periodically.
The Centre consists of a collaborative team of experienced specialists in surgery, oncology, radiology, pathology, plastic surgery, breast care nurses, dedicated to providing expert screening, diagnosis, disease management, pre-and post-operative care as well as counseling through a multidisciplinary approach. To ensure patients receive the optimum treatment, the team consults together to help decide on the best treatment plan.
“Most breast conditions are not cancerous – a clear message has to be sent – do not worry, 90% of problems are not due to a cancer but the symptoms are the same. So it is our task to differentiate which is cancer, which are not,” added Dr. Wirithamulla.
The team also has the added advantage of consulting with specialists from the Asiri AOI (American Oncology Institute) Cancer Centre. Asiri AOI’s precision-driven cancer treatment regime is based on best-in-class, collaborative treatment protocols with University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre (UPMC), one of the leading providers of Oncology treatment in the United States. The collaboration between Asiri and AOI supports the team in providing patients with the most comprehensive cancer care available.
Information and advice is also available online for women via the Asiri Breast Centre site http://www.asirihealth.com/services-and-centres/health-and-wellness/breast-care-centre promoting the habit of self-examination and ability to detect changes in the breasts at an early stage.
Should breast abnormalities be detected, doctors urge women seek medical advice quickly as most breast conditions are not cancerous and further worry can be avoided or if treatment is required, early detection through screening increases the chance of saved lives and breasts.
“Why we promote early detection and screening is because when picked up early cure is possible with higher survival rates. We can save lives and save breasts, as though often breasts are removed as part of the treatment, with early attention a patient’s treatment could combine removing of the lump with radiation therapy. Saving the breast helps avoid the emotional and psychological trauma that patients often experience with a complete mastectomy.” he said.
The Asiri Breast Care Centre is devoted to providing expertise, compassion and support in all matters relating to breast care. With every effort made to instill peace of mind, women are assured of a supportive, comfortable environment and should not hesitate to visit Asiri if in need of advice or treatment.