Sadly the incidence of breast and cervical cancer in Cambodia is a major issue; with these cancers being the leading two causes of death for Cambodian women. Around 1400 new cases of breast cancer and 1500 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in Cambodia – the highest incidence per capita in South East Asia. Despite these cancers often being treatable, provincial women have limited access to medical services, health education and suffer a disproportionate financial burden when it comes to medical care. As a result, almost half of the women diagnosed have presented too late for treatment and pass away from the cancer.
Awareness Cambodia is combating these devastating, but preventable, diseases by providing screening and education for 1440 women over the next two years. Each clinic session sees a steady stream of women (25-35 in number) attending clinics for treatment and education. Operation Nightingale (Awareness Cambodia’s medical stream) reports a significant number of women being referred for further biopsies and treatment. Operation Nightingale Director Dr Chenda also reports that her time invested in training nursing staff has prompted the midwives at the clinics to ask for formal training too. While it’s early days yet, the pilot program is hitting its mark.
Dr Chenda describes a typical day:
“Twenty-five women came to the women’s clinic for screening. The women were taught how to prevent breast and cervical cancer. Women must do self-breast examination every month. However, cervical cancer can be preventable by pap smear every two years and vaccination. Although the women have vaccinated to protect the cancer, pap smear is still needed every two years since the vaccine provided in Cambodia can control only two types of HPV.”
Awareness Cambodia wishes to extend a warm and heartfelt thank you to Mei Wen from the Wen Giving Foundation whose partnership and generosity is helping make this life-saving program for women in provincial Cambodia possible.