"The mortality rate for breast cancer in Paraguay is 10.1 per 100,000 women (for 2014-2015). This, in bare numbers, would mean we are talking about 343 women who are dying from this disease per year," Dr. Lida Sosa, the general director of health programs at the Health Ministry, told EFE.
Sosa emphasized, at an event at the ministry in Asuncion, that diagnosed breast cancer cases in 2016 have already exceeded the number in the entire previous year, when 407 cases were detected.
The doctor discussed the need to raise awareness about prevention and the urgency in detecting the symptoms such as lumps in or skin changes on the breasts via routine self-examinations by women.
"Every woman must do a self-exam of the breasts 10 days after menstruation, to continue monitoring her breasts and to be able to detect any abnormality that can be spotted. Upon detecting something, they must go to a health assistance center to be able to undergo the appropriate testing," Sosa said.
She also said that women over 40 should have a mammogram "once a year," since they are in the group known to be most at risk for breast cancer.
Sosa said that if there is a positive diagnosis, women must then to go one of the three specialized centers in Paraguay for treatment.
"Currently, we have specialists at these three centers who ... perform breast cancer surgery and also carry out treatment such as ... chemotherapy and radiation therapy," she said.
Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Antonio Barrios said that Paraguay "will continue to expand" its services to combat a disease that "hits public health and women hard."
"We're trying with this campaign to raise awareness among people that the best thing ... is early detection, and so we're insisting on ... self-exams and early consultations," Barrios told reporters after the event.
Also present at the event was Pan American Health Organization representative Carlos Castillo, who told EFE that "women's lack of knowledge" about the disease is still an important obstacle in Paraguay and throughout the region to the early recognition of breast cancer symptoms