Addu Cancer Screening Trip

Cancer Society of Maldives (CSM) started Breast Cancer Screening camps in 2014 in collaboration with FEM Surgery of Mount Elizabeth Hospital Singapore. CSM and FEM has jointly agreed to conduct two screenings annually and to screen the populations of the outer atolls of the Maldives. So far three camps have been conducted and have covered four atolls out of 20 atolls. The initial screening camp was in Addu Atoll in Feruary 2014., and covered all five islands of Addu Atoll. The other two camps were in April 2015 in Haa Alif and Haa Dhaalu Atolls and in October 2015 in Baa Atoll. We select atolls for the screening programs based on the prevalence of breast cancer atoll wise.

The screening program is open for all women of 30 years and above ages in the Atoll, and women with a family history, where it is advertised for women to pre-sign up for screening. To check for breast cancer, first a clinical breast examination is done and if advised by the doctor, a breast ultrasound scan is done to further investigate suspected cases. After the breast scan, the doctor will further advise patients to go for a mammogram or a biopsy for further investigation and confirmation of a diagnosis. For mammograms and biopsy, patients have to travel to Male’ (capital city of Maldives), India or SriLanka.

The last screening camp was help on April 27 th – 29 th the team conducted screening in Addu Atoll, and covered the whole atoll in 3 days. We decided to do a repeat screening in Addu atoll because the prevalence of breast cancer in Maldives is highest in Addu Atoll second to Male’ where the services are available. The team comprised of three doctors from Singapore, three doctors from Male’ and four nurses from Singapore. Three excom members of CSM formed part of the team. During the three-day program, screening was done in Maradhoo Health Centre, Hithadhoo Regional Hospital and in Hulhumeedhoo Health Centre. A total of 558 women were screened, and those required to do follow up was advised to go for follow up tests to Male’.

Breast cancer awareness sessions are conducted along with the screening programs to all the people who come to get screened and leaflets with signs, symptoms and self-examination techniques outlined are distributed to the rest of the population through the health centres and hospital. The two facilitators from Addu Atoll who were trained by CSM in 2015 conducted the awareness sessions.

Our aim in conducting the screening programs is to screen as many people as possible and help in early detection. Most of the people in the outer atolls have difficulty in accessibility to some health care services such as cancer screening.

CSM would like to thank the entire 13-member team, who contributed wholeheartedly to this effort. Your work and commitment is an inspiration to us all. We would also like to thank those who supported this effort, namely, Canareef Resort, Equator Village, Maldivian, and Addu City Council. Special thanks are given to the very dedicated staff of the three health care facilities for their effortless work in making this screening a success. I CAN WE CAN YOU CAN HELP PREVENT CANCER!