Government, with the support of various stakeholders, has embarked on a massive programme aimed at increasing breast cancer awareness among both men and women amid revelations that this disease accounts for 2 500 deaths annually.
October is breast cancer month and this year’s initiatives to increase awareness are running under the theme “Early Detection and Treatment Saves Lives”.
Zimbabwe Cancers Registries registrar Mr Eric Chokunonga lauded the move to increase awareness highlighting that breast cancer is the second most common cancer among black women in Zimbabwe after cervical cancer.
According to Mr Chokunonga, recent statistics show that breast cancer accounts for 12 percent of the cancers among women, with cervical cancer topping at 32,2 percent.
“Among non-black women, breast cancer constitutes 18,1 percent of the cancers which comes second after non-melanoma skin cancer which constitutes 41,7 percent. Breast cancer constitutes 15,1 percent of the cancers affecting black women in Harare alone and among non-black women it constitutes 9,6 percent,” explained Mr Chokunonga.
He said cases of breast cancer among men are low with 15 cases having been reported in 2010.
“The trend of breast cancer is increasing and our recent studies show that the disease is more prevalent among women in their 40s,” said Mr Chokunonga.
Recently, the Ministry of Health and Child Care revealed that an estimated 5 000 cases of cancer are recorded in the country annually. The chairman for breast cancer alleviation in the ministry, Mr Alfred Munonyara, urged women to regularly go for a mammogram, an X-ray of the breast.
“Most unreported breast cancers are from the rural areas where people are ignorant about the disease as they associate it with witchcraft.
“We would like to urge women to regularly go for testing as early detection saves lives,” he said.
Mr Munonyara urged the public to eat more traditional foods as they are less fatty and sugary compared to refined foods. Signs and symptoms of breast cancer may include:
A breast lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue;
- Bloody discharge from the nipple;
- Change in the size or shape of a breast;
- Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling;
- Inverted nipple;
- Peeling, scaling or flaking of the nipple or breast skin; and
- Redness or pitting of the skin over your breast, like the skin of an orange.
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