Project is known around the world

By Nick Mollet GUERNSEY’S breast cancer project is internationally renowned.

‘The women of Guernsey are fortunate in having a very high quality breast cancer service and through the Guernsey project, they are contributing to advances in breast cancer worldwide,’ said Royal College of Pathologists president Professor James Underwood.

He was speaking during a break from the first major breast cancer conference in the island, which was held on Friday and Saturday.

It was a joint multi-disciplinary educational conference organised by the Royal College of Pathologists and the Board of Health and brought together about 100 professionals including surgeons, pathologists, radiologists and breast cancer nurses.

‘It’s an opportunity to raise public awareness of the excellent work that is done in pathology in Guernsey,’ said Professor Underwood.

There are about 50 instances of breast cancer a year in Guernsey — about 15 are screen-detected and the rest are symptomatic.

Charities such The Pink Ladies do a lot of important work.

‘We rely increasingly on the support of patients and the public generally for our work. It’s a way of helping them feel they are contributing some good for future patients,’ said Professor Underwood.

Breast screening in Guernsey is generally well funded and its facilities are adequate.

Incidence of breast cancer generally is rising, although the likes of lung and stomach cancers are falling.

Some women have a genetic susceptibility but that is a relatively small proportion of all patients.

There will never be a day when all women will be cured of breast cancer.

‘One hundred per cent does not exist in medicine,’ said Professor Underwood.

The Royal College of Pathologists is currently improving public awareness of pathology and the role it has in patient care.

He said that the pathology services were excellent in Guernsey and that was mainly due to the personnel.

There was a strong link between the island’s pathology services and both with its consultants and with those in the UK, particularly with Birmingham’s Heartlands Hospital.

Guernsey’s breast cancer project requires a tremendous amount of confidence and persistence and it can takes decades of research to produce a meaningful result, said professor Underwood

Global interest in cancer forum

by Mark Oliphant

THE first international breast-cancer conference held in the island has been hailed as a major success.

Organised by the Board of Health, the multi-discipline event attracted more than 120 delegates from Canada, the United States, Australia, Jersey, the UK and Guernsey.

Eminent doctors and professors from Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK spoke on the latest issues surrounding breast cancer treatment and care.

‘The conference was very good. We have had extremely positive feedback from many of the delegates, who have been asking us if we will be staging another conference soon said Tina Poxon, director of health studies and nursing services.

 ‘We have talked about doing another conference but it does take significant time and commitment. We also need the ‘backing of the Board of Health and with the change in the machinery of government, we are unsure if the political agenda may change,’ she added.

Those presenting included Professor Laszlo Tabar, who works in a Swedish hospital. He started breast-screening trials in the 1970s and has been influential in their development.

‘Two of the nurses have already told me that they are going to put up posters on their ward encouraging younger women to be breast-aware. While older women have screenings and therefore think about the possibility of cancer, younger women tend not to be so aware,’ said Mrs Poxon. ‘If that was the only change that came out of the conference, then I would call it a success, but I think that the speakers have a much wider positive impact on practice standards.’

Some of the presenters already had connections with Guernsey. Dick Rainsbury, from the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, spoke about reconstructive surgery. Some patients from the island have previously been sent to him.

And Professor Ian Fentiman, who was speaking about the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, has in the past done a lot of research based on local women. Another of the speakers was an Alderney woman who has suffered from breast cancer.

Sessions were also chaired by local cancer experts radiologist Dr Louise Gaunt, surgeon Roger Allsopp and oncologist Dr Peter Gomes On Friday evening guests were treated to a vin d’honneur by the Tourist Board at Candie Gardens and then had a formal meal with the Bailiff

‘It was a relatively small conference compared to those in the UK, but it was extremely worthwhile.

‘Many of the delegates commented on what a lovely place Guernsey was.

‘The quality of the speakers was superb and there was a very friendly atmosphere,’ said Mrs Poxon.

(Reproduced courtesy Guernsey Press and Star)

Article dated 15 March 2004

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