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Papauta girls' privileged insight into cancer

Papauta Girls College said they felt privileged to be the only school to partake in last week's Pinktober activities around awareness on cancer. 

More than 20 students from the all-girls school marched along the pink painted streets of Apia in an effort to raise awareness on the dangers of cancer.

Misimasefili Ieremia Leautuli, the Papauta College Principal, said the event is not only is it for the students and their families but also for the teaching staff as most of them are women.

"We are honoured to take part in this event," she said.

"Especially with it being an all girls school, and the theme of it being on cancer, especially breast cancer and such.

"This is great for the students as well as for the benefit of their families, so that they are able to tell and spread the message, plus our teachers who are with us today."

According to Samoa Cancer Society statistics, from January to August this year, the Society recorded 76 cases in the country, 13 of them children. 

Breast cancer leads these numbers with 16 patients and is the focus of the Pinktober campaign to raise awareness. 

Last month, a report published by Lancet Oncology examined cancer control in small island nations, and it found that Samoa is struggling to keep up with rising incidences of cancer.

Principal Misimasefili stressed that the message is not only important for women but also the men, as to get detected early will enable early treatment. 

"Through these students, their families including the men, their fathers or brothers, they can maybe go out and talk about these things because we need to discuss it in order to let people know."

Misimasefili added that in the future, the school will look into conducting screenings for its students and teaching staff.

The Minister of Health, Faimalotoa Kika Stowers, delivered the keynote speech at the event, where she reminded everyone that cancer is also a result of the lack of information about the illness.

“The causes of cancer are not just tobacco, it is a lack of understanding and knowledge of our people about these causes and appreciating what limited resources we have available to treat cancer,” she said.

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