World Cancer Day: Saving lives by screening

 

Pharmacist Nino Rukhadze was diagnosed with treatable breast cancer at the age of 44. After discovering a lump in her left breast while in the shower, Nino immediately made an appointment for a free mammogram at the Hera clinic in Kutaisi, one of the Georgian government’s sponsored sites for free cancer screening services.

“The Hera clinic offers free mammography screenings for all women living in Georgia, who are 40 and over. The doctors and nurses at Hera are caring and friendly and well trained. I felt like I was in good hands the entire time I was there,” said Nino.

“Although my mother had been encouraging me to get screened before I found the lump, I never went. I found out about the free screening services at Hera from my sister, who lives in Tbilisi. She gets regular breast and cervical cancer screenings at the National Screening Center in Tbilisi.”

The mammogram and subsequent tests revealed that Nino indeed had breast cancer. Her treatment protocol involved a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation followed by four years of an oral drug that prevents breast cancer from recurring.

“I was shocked, of course, when I was first diagnosed, but I soon learned that my cancer is treatable. The chances are good that I have beaten this cancer once and for all,” said Nino.

Nino Rukhadze has been successfully treated for breast cancer, thanks to the free cancer screening services offered by the Georgian government.
Nino Rukhadze has been successfully treated for breast cancer, thanks to the free cancer screening services offered by the Georgian government.

“I try to encourage every woman above 40 to regularly examine their breasts and to get a mammogram every two to three years. The government’s screening program operates all over the country now, not just in Kutaisi and Tbilisi. It’s important for all women in Georgia to take advantage of this important and life-saving service.”

Women can receive free screening services at 11 sites in Tbilisi and 32 other sites around Georgia.

The U.S. government, though the USAID|SUSTAIN project, is supporting the Georgian government’s strategy to improve the quality of cancer screening in Georgia. In addition to providing training for more than 1,000 Georgian health providers in comprehensive reproductive health (which includes breast and cervical cancer screening), USAID|SUSTAIN is also developing a reproductive health certification program for the country, which has a direct implication for Georgia’s reproductive cancer screening program.

USAID|SUSTAIN also raises awareness about breast cancer treatment and prevention by sponsoring Georgia’s annual Komen Race for Cure® in Tbilisi. This year, the Race® will take place in June.

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