Kenyans urged to go for breast screening

September 30, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 30 – Kenyans have been advised to go for breast cancer screening at least once a year to avoid late diagnosis.

Kenya Breast Health Programme Executive Director Mary Onyango said on Thursday that early diagnosis provided 94 percent chance of cure and added that majority of people did not go for breast screening due to ignorance and fear of being diagnosed with the cancer.

"The earlier it is detected, the cheaper it is to treat and the chances of survival are higher. But if you are detected in stage four like what we are seeing with most of our women, the cost goes beyond their reach and the chances of survival are very slim and even if you survive the quality of life will be lower so it is very important that we should start screening services," Ms Onyango said.

According to the national registry for cancer, breast cancer takes up to 20 percent of cancer cases in Kenya.

It is estimated that one percent of the breast cancer cases involves men.

Ms Onyango who is a cancer survivor added that they were working with the American Women Association to raise funds to give free mammography to women.

A mammography is an X-ray that is done on the breast. The process of doing it involves holding the breast tissue between two plates and then the x-ray is done.

"It is done in four different views to get hold of all the breast tissue and the X-ray is then interpreted by a doctor who checks to see whether there are any masses or anything that could suggest cancer of the breast," explained Dr Elizabeth Kimotho, a gynaecologist at the Nairobi Women\’s Hospital.

"It is an uncomfortable process but it is not painful and does not take more than five minutes," Dr Kimotho said.

She said that it was important for any woman who was above the age of 35 to go for a mammography at least once a year whether or not they had a problem and for those below to go for routine breast examinations.

Speaking at the Nairobi Women\’s Hospital during a Mobile Mammography unit handover by the Safaricom foundation, Chief Executive Officer Dr Sam Thenya encouraged men to also go for screening because they too were vulnerable to breast cancer.

"We also want to remove the stigma that is attached to breast cancer and not just for the women but to also tell men that breast cancer affects them," Dr Thenya said.

"And we want to roll out this initiative all over the country so that the patients do not have to travel all the way to Nairobi," he said.

Safaricom Foundation Chairman Les Baillie said there was need to make medical services easily accessible especially to the local communities.

"Part of the problem is that the medical services are concentrated in Nairobi so by providing the mobile mammography unit, it enables it to go out to the people," Mr Baillie said.

The hospital will be carrying out mammography at a subsidised cost of Sh1,500. It costs between Sh3,000 and Sh4,500 to have a mammography.

Capital Group Chairman Chris Kirubi challenged more corporates to join in the initiative to afford treatment to those who cannot pay.

"We need more people to come forward. It is important for women to be protected," he said.


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