About a year ago, I was unfortunate enough to break it to a twenty seven year old that he had cancer. He had just walked to the hospital with anemia. When we first asked for an OGD, we were just doing it as a routine test to rule out the underlying cause of the anemia. I had expected that the OGD would turn out normal; except it didn’t. He had a small tumor in the duodenum and a biopsy had been taken. It turned out to be an adenocarcinoma, with metastases to the liver which meant curative surgery wasn’t an option for him. As we sat with the oncologist to draw out his chemotherapy regimen and to just talk to him, I couldn’t help feel extremely sad for him. I was twenty seven and I hadn’t even started living. He had graduated from a teacher’s training college and he was yet to get a job (you know how hopeless our country is in this front). In the face of illness, his joblessness would fade into nothingness. Now he had to devote his life into fighting cancer.
2019 was particularly a bad year for Kenya. We lost a lot of people to Kenyan, in addition to all the “faceless” Kenyans we lost to cancer, there was Ken Okoth who succumbed to colorectal cancer, Bob Collymore who had acute myeloid leukemia and former Bomet governor Joyce Laboso.
Today is world cancer day and in line with the theme, I want to do my own share of building the nation by sharing something on breast cancer screening.
Screening is defined as the tests and exams used to find a disease in people who don’t have symptoms.
The purpose of screening is to enable earlier intervention and management and in the case of cancer, to achieve cure
Breast cancer screening
The goal is to find it before it causes symptoms
For women at average risk of breast cancer, they should be screened as follows:
1.Start a screening mammogram between age 40 and 44 every year
2.Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year
3.Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year or continue yearly mammograms
Women at high risk for breast cancer should get a breast MRI and a mammogram every year starting at the age of 30
You are at a high risk for breast cancer if you have any of the following:
1.History of breast cancer previously
2.Genetic mutations such as BRCA1/2
3.History of radiation therapy to the chest in childhood
Clinical breast exams are not recommended for breast cancer screening among average risk women at any age
It is important to aspire to prevent cancer and if this is not possible, then early detection is the next best shot if we are aiming at cure.