A leading cancer specialist says Pacific governments need to make it a priority to set up a regional breast cancer screening programme.
An Auckland oncologist, Professor Chellaraj Benjamin, says in families the mother's health is very important and better facilities are needed to improve early detection of tumours.
He says South Pacific countries don't all collect proper statistics on women with cancer and there is no mammogram or coordinated detection service available.
He says breast self-examination in villages is not enough to save lives and women need to see their doctors sooner.
"Most of them present very late. So the treatment becomes palliative. It's almost impossible to control the disease which is a very sad story. And I think early detection is the best protection. So these countries should aim at getting the proper early detection programme for their own benefit."
Professor Benjamin says donor agencies, which spend millions in the Pacific, should focus on something constructive like a full screening service and co-ordinated treatment programme for breast cancer.