Archives for October 2013

Free Breast Cancer Screening in Kenya: Should you bank on it?

Tags: #Breastcancerscreening #Breastcancerinkenya #stage4breastcancer #selfbreastexam #cancerfreewomen

According to Daily Nation newspaper published on October 23, 2013, Mary Namata, a Ugandan lady stayed with breast lesion for 4 years before she could seek medical help. The wounds became too painful for her to live like that and it was until that point she went to seek medical help. By the time she went to the hospital, Mary was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. To be exact, Mary had stage 4 fungating breast cancer where the cancer wounds had penetrated the skin and had opened outside the breast.

In Kenya, hundreds of thousands of women tune on the news and hit on google searching for free breast cancer screening in their areas. This is a very good sign because it implies that the number of women recognizing October as breast cancer month in Kenya is increasing. It is at “creating” awareness level that we must start to control this African women slayer overshadowed by HIV/AIDS & Malaria.

But, is it wise to risk your life waiting for free breast cancer screening, mammograms? Kenya has less than 15 mammogram machines primarily in private settings, meaning, chances of actually getting a free mammogram without a sponsor are very low. Notice that Kenya has far more mammogram machines than all other East African states combined.

Here is the good news, you can start the fight against breast cancer early by doing Breast self Exam (BSE) starting age 20. To carry an effective self breast exam, this is what you should know: –

Learn how your normal breast feel and look:

The key to early detection of breast cancer is the key to survival. Success in Self Breast Exam (BSE) is dependent on knowing more about your normal and your risk factors. That way, if you detect anything abnormal, you would be able to notice it and take the necessary action…Mammogram!

To learn your normal breast, it is recommended you check your breast at least once a month in front of a mirror. You should expect to see

  • Breasts that are in usual shape, size and color. In most women, breast that are equal in size. Should you doubt any of these, get a clinician to take a look.
  • Breast that are evenly shaped without any disfigurement or distortion. No dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin.
  • Nipples that are even, well contoured without swelling, redness or inwardly inverted. Any unexpected discharge from the nipples must be reported immediately to a doctor for further evaluation.

Know the warning signs of breast cancer: Memorize them!

  • A lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or armpit(s).
  • Any wound, pimple, boil or blister occurring on your breast or underarm area
  • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
  • Change in the size or shape of your breast
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple or anywhere on the breast. Do not ignore Itchiness!!
  • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
  • Nipple discharge of any colour (not milk for expectant or breast feeding mothers) that starts suddenly.  High alert if the discharge is from one breast, comes out without squeezing, is clear or bloody.
  • New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away, or pain that cannot be related to any traumatic event.

Know your risk factors:

  • Family history of breast cancer: If anyone in your family (father or mother’s side) has breast cancer or died of breast cancer, consider yourself a high risk. This is because family lineage in Africa is poorly defined
  • Overweight or obese. Being overweight in Africa is seen as a sign of wellbeing but in actual sense, this increases breast cancer risk
  • Being female: Meaning, every woman should consider themselves as breast cancer risk factor.
  • Increase in age. The more you age, the higher the risk
  • Beginning of menstrual cycles too early, before age 12
  • Giving birth to a first child after age 35. This increases your breast cancer risk factor
  • Having never been pregnant: Women that have never been pregnant have a much higher risk of breast cancer
  • Drinking alcohol: Women that drink alcohol are at higher risk of breast cancer than those who doesn’t

Do not wait until you can get a free breast cancer screening in Africa. It may never happen and waiting could put your life and your family in danger. Remember without women in Africa, our societies would collapse. A woman is the single most important figure in our society. You are important and worth everything in the world. Be safe!

Breast Cancer Screening in Kenya: Why Wait For October?


October is now known worldwide as the breast cancer month. The world has taken this month seriously to campaign and create awareness about breast cancer. Billions of dollars are put towards breast cancer in those 30 days in October, something that has helped tame breast cancer.

However, it is heartbreaking to notice that most of us in Africa wait for October to get “free breast cancer screening” and “Free mammograms”. Looking at google keyword search terms that led visitors to our website can paint a clear picture of what most of us in Africa think about breast cancer month.

Don’t wait for October

breast cancer awarenessDon’t wait for October to get screened for breast cancer. You can wait but breast cancer does not wait. You may wait hoping to get free breast cancer screening or free mammogram and not get it. Will you wait for another year’s October to take a chance of getting free breast cancer screening?

The best way to chances of surviving breast cancer and any other cancer for that matter is staring treatment early. The earlier you start, the better the outcomes before cancer spread to other organs (metastasis)

While mammogram is the single most useful and accurate breast cancer screening tool available, learn about other free ways of detecting breast cancer like Breast Self Exam (BSE). Have regular clinician breast cancer exam (CBE) to minimize chances of breast cancer going unnoticed until damage to other organs has occurred

Stay ahead of breast cancer and don’t wait for October to get breast cancer screening. October is breast cancer awareness month, not free breast cancer screening month. Be proactive. The world cannot be what it is without you! Our societies would collapse without women. Our kids would not have a family without our women. Let’s join hands and fight breast cancer together, early enough to maximize survival.

Free Breast Cancer Screening in October. Should I Wait?

Susan Ngure, a breast cancer survivor hoping to inspire women to get screened today

Susan Ngure, a breast cancer survivor hoping to inspire women to get screened today

Susan Ngure, a now cancer free woman narrates her story how she felt a breast lump and waited for the lump to go away. She waited and waited only to later learn her lump was breast cancer. So are millions of other women in Kenya who are sitting on assumption that everything is okay.

Hundreds of thousands more women wait for November for free breast cancer screening. Well, while the month of November is breast cancer awareness month, and there are usually a number of donor programs conducting free breast cancer screening, getting a free breast cancer exam may be harder than just going to breast health facility and get checked. Furthermore, time determines how far breast cancer may have progressed

Lucky for Susan Ngure, she was in Australia when she first experienced a breast lump. She waited and waited for the lump to go away but it never happened. Susan recommends going for screening BEFORE you get a lump. You may never get breast cancer but given that 1:8 will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their life time, better to get screened than to be too late.

Rarely do we hear many stories of breast cancer survivors who have fought the battle in Kenya and stayed in Kenya throughout until they became cancer free. These cases are there but the cost of breast cancer treatment is large enough that those who can afford full course treatment would rather go to first world where breast cancer treatment is advanced and all modes of therapies are available.

99.9% of Kenyan women cannot afford full course breast cancer treatment and this is why everyone in Kenya needs to learn breast self exam (BSE) and clinicians needs to recommend clinical breast exam (CBE) for anyone above age 40.

CDC recommends annual mammogram for every woman over age 50 and over age 30 in high risk families. Unfortunately, in Africa, it is nearly impossible to tell who comes from high risk family since those who may have died of breast cancer died undiagnosed or without getting into national breast cancer database.

Your best bet is… Get screened today. Don’t wait for October to get breast cancer screening. Don’t assume everything will be okay while you can get the truth by getting screened. Don’t wait for free breast cancer screening because it might be too late. The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcomes of treatment.