, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 31 – The Aga Khan University Hospital Cancer Unit has said that cases of breast cancer are rapidly increasing and are also affecting more and more men.
Cancer Services Manager at the Hospital Dr David Makumi told Capital News that doctors at the unit had noticed a number of men developing the cancer.
“We are not talking about female breast cancer or women breast cancer, we are not specifying any gender, we do have a percentage of men who have also breast cancer,” he said.
Dr Makumi said that though the prevalence of breast cancer in men was low compared to women, it was important for men to perform self breast examinations or make use of the free services available.
“Men should be aware that they are also not immune, their prevalence is not as big as for women but its there and we have to be aware about it,” he stressed.
He acknowledged that a few men were turning up for the testing, though he said the numbers were still very low compared to the new prevalence evident amongst men.
According to the American Cancer Society, men too have breast tissue and that is how they can develop breast cancer.
“Men’s breast tissue contains ducts, like all cells of the body, a man’s breast duct cells can undergo cancerous changes. But breast cancer is less common in men because their breast duct cells are less developed than those of women and because their breast cells are not constantly exposed to the growth-promoting effects of female hormones.”
Worrying cancer trends
Dr Makumi further said that another worrying fact was that breast cancer cases were increasing among young people in Kenya, unlike in other countries.
“It is also a cause for alarm to see premenopausal women getting breast cancer. What is worrying is that we are seeing breast cancer in much more younger people – in their 30s and 40s. In North America and Europe the disease is common in people in their 50s and 60s,” the doctor explained.
Apart from some of the known causes of cancer such as environmental and hereditary factors, the doctor blamed the rise in breast cancer on bad lifestyles that young people have adapted to.
He pinpointed the consumption of unhealthy food, lack of exercise and among other things, stress.
“Exercising does not mean going to the gym. Take stairs instead of the lifts, take walks, young people sit on sofa sets with remotes and just feed on junk food. We need to change such lifestyles.”
Dr Makumi asked young people to avoid taking a lot of alcohol, cigarettes, and fat foods, and urged them to spare time from their busy schedules to go for a breast cancer test.
Going for check ups, he said had been highly ignored and yet it was the biggest way to keep away such conditions or manage them on time.
He said men especially were ignorant and rarely showed up.
The Aga Khan University Hospital Cancer Unit has begun a monthly free breast cancer testing exercise, unlike in the previous years when the free testing was done only in October – the cancer month.
Dr Makumi said breast cancer tumours detected at an early stage could be removed without removing the entire breast.