The government is expressing concern over the low awareness on early detection of breast cancer as well as uptake of screening services in the country.
Ministry of Health CAS Dr Rashid Aman says breast cancer remains the leading type of cancer in Kenya with an estimated 5900 new cases recorded annually contributing to 12.5% of the overall cancer burden.
He said it was saddening that only 25 per cent of women aged 14 and 49 years have conducted a self-breast examination (SBE) while just 14 pc have been subjected to a clinical breast examination for early detection of breast cancer.
Dr Aman was speaking Tuesday during the launch of the breast cancer awareness month, an annual campaign, marked in October across the world to increase awareness of the disease.
In Kenya, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women of all ages and has the third-highest mortality with more than half of breast cancer cases diagnosed late.
According to the Ministry of Health, seven women die every day in Kenya as a result of the disease that is now affecting men.
The ministry is warning that all women are at risk of breast cancer but the trend can be reversed if the cases are diagnosed early.
“Cancer has become one of the key public health challenges of our times. with emerging epidemics and pandemics we find ourselves at crossroads of a triple burden disease” observed Dr Aman.
Dr Aman, however, says all is not lost noting that the government has made strategic investment to strengthen cancer prevention, treatment and management of cancer in various public hospitals across the country.
Kenyatta University teaching, referral and research hospital and the Moi Teaching and Referral hospital in Eldoret have set up modern cancer centre fully equipped with state-of-the-art machines to enable cancer patients’ access top-notch care.
The Kenyatta National hospital is also set to unveil a modern cancer centre equipped with a CT simulator. The public hospitals will facilitate patients access early diagnosis and prompt care.
The health ministry has concluded a successful breast health awareness and screening pilot whose findings will inform the development of an action plan for scaling up breast cancer screening.
“The breast cancer awareness month today comes at an appropriate time, as it coincides with the fruition of state of the art cancer care services to be offered. These milestones demonstrate the government’s commitment in the fight against cancer” he said.
Research shows that adopting a healthy lifestyle and breastfeeding may lower the risk of developing breast cancer, even in women at the highest risk.
Tobacco use and alcohol intake have been found to increase the risk of developing the disease.
During this awareness month, women, as well as men, are encouraged to adopt a healthy diet, avoid alcohol intake and smoking, exercise regularly, do a breast self-examination, and watch their weight.