Project Sri Lanka commenced a substantial two year project in 2017 focusing on ‘Oral Cancer, Awareness, Detection and Treatment’.
We were shocked to learn that cancers of the lip, mouth and pharynx make up some 24% of all cancers in males in Sri Lanka and a significant percentage of female cancers. This is attributed to the habitual chewing of betel, tobacco, slaked lime and areca nut by many men and women on the island, particularly in rural areas in the interior hill country. People chew this carcinogenic mix without realising the significant dangers to health and there is an increasing trend for young people to become habitual chewers of carcinogens.
Our project addresses 4 essential approaches to the problem:
- Primary prevention and behaviour modification to stop people commencing this life threatening habit,
- Early detection of pre-cancerous lesions,
- Early diagnosis which is clearly vital. And
- Treatment at the earliest possible stage. There are high cure rates with stage 1 and 2 cancers but when oral cancer is advanced, there is little hope of cure.
The work ‘on the ground’ for this project is a partnership between Cancer Care Services in Sri Lanka and the Department of Maxillofacial Surgery at the Faculty of Dental Sciences of the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.
The scope of the project includes outreach programmes, field camps and workshops in rural communities on the island for the purposes of awareness raising, training, diagnosis and referrals; and educational initiatives including presentations in schools, island-wide posters, publications, a quiz and TV infomercials.
The project is funded by Project Sri Lanka, The Rotary Club of Kandy, Rotary District 3220, The Rotary Club of Alnwick, Rotary District 1030, and The Rotary club of Honolulu Sunset. It has been awarded a Global Grant by Rotary International.
Overall it has the potential to save many lives in Sri Lanka and save many people from pain, disfigurement and life-threatening habits. The project was officially inaugurated on 26th January 2017. The inauguration event was addressed by the District Governor of Sri Lanka Rotary, the Dean of the Faculty of Dental Sciences, the Project Co-ordinator from Cancer Care Services and Chair of the Trustees of Project Sri Lanka, Professor Joy Palmer Cooper.