Let’s face it, taking care of our health is often at the bottom of busy mamas’ To-do lists and when you combine that with the difficulties of accessing health care in a foreign country and in a language you don’t understand, well it’s easy to put it off.
Time to get those puppies checked!
So this month, with October being breast cancer awareness month throughout most of world, we’re providing our readers with a list of places throughout Japan, some providing English support, where you can have your breast health checked as well as gynacological matters.
Most city offices countrywide provide free or discounted screening for gynacological cancers for women over the age of 30 to 35 and mammograms to women over the age of 40. Procedures and rules will differ from area to area: some areas send coupons to women over certain ages whereas others advertise screening locations in the local newspaper so to be safe, check with your local ward office for details. The check ups are not expensive, ranging between 1000 – 2000 yen, making it an affordable option.
Another avenue is to look at the medical health checks, ningendoku, provided through health insurance policies. KA Mum Bec has yearly health checks through her husband’s work that cost around 10,000 yen. Mammograms in general are decently priced at 3000 yen.
Instagramming is not self-checking…
Local women’s health hospitals in your local area will also provide the required tests but if you’re like me, I like my invasive tests served in a language I understand. Those living in big cities have a range of English speaking women’s clinics they can attend at a time of their choosing. The KA blog provides a list of recommended doctors in Japan. KA mums also recommend:
The Kisaki Clinic near Juso, Osaka. They provide multi-lingual (English, Chinese and Korean) care.
The Takeda Clinic in Moriguchi, Osaka. English is minimal however one KA Mum found them to be highly professional and caring.
If you have a favoured clinic in any part of Japan, please let us know and we will add it to our list of recommended doctors.
Tokyo Sky Tree lit up pink for October.
Despite the plethora of services provided by the Japanese medical system (which I cannot speak highly enough) promotion of prevention and self awareness measures are not common here. Traditionally, Japan has had lower rates of breast cancer compared to Western country largely due to diet, however as lifestyles change, the risk of breast cancer for Japanese women rose to 1 in 30 and annual mammogram rates were 3%; in the US and Europe, where prevention measures are advertised, annual mammogram rates are 60 – 80%. But slowly, Japan is getting on board with the breast cancer message; there is an annual Run For The Cure fun run and a Pink Ribbon Festival. There are public displays of Sky Tree and the Rainbow bridge in Tokyo glowing pink for the month of October. A quick survey of KA Moms found this to be a bit tokenistic and would like to see more varied and visual campaign, similar to those seen in our home countries; however some report to have seen more pink ribbon products and focus in the Japanese media in recent times. Let’s hope this change continues.
And finally, while regular medical checks are vital, knowing your body is the most important thing you can do. Be mindful of changes and seek help for anything. Check out Pink Hope for advice on self-examination and awareness.
Mum to three very loud boys and wife to a patient Japanese man, I'm Australian and moved to the Kansai area in 2012. Aside from navigating all the craziness of being a mum in another country, I work semi-full time and try to keep my sanity! Of course I clean but I don't cook!