Regular self-examination key to early detection of breast cancer, say oncologists

Medical experts in the field of oncology have said regular breast self-examination is a life-saving measure that can stop women in the country from dying from breast cancer by detecting the killer disease early.

The oncologists noted that if caught early, breast cancer is highly treatable with equipment like PET/CT which they said ensures effective treatment of cancers.

The oncologists advised adult women of all ages to perform breast self-examination at least once a month while those menstruating should perform it a few days after their periods end.

According to the World Health Organisation, breast cancer is a disease in which abnormal breast cells grow out of control and form tumours.

It notes that if left unchecked, the tumours can spread throughout the body and become fatal.

Speaking at a panel discussion to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month with the theme, ‘Embrace your Breast: Close the Care Gap’, organised by MeCure Cancer Center, in Lagos, a Consultant Radiation and Clinical Oncologist, Dr Adeoluwa Adeniji, said when women are consistent with self-breast- examination, it would go a long way in reducing  breast cancer deaths in Nigeria.

Adeniji, who is the Chief Medical Director of MeCure Healthcare Limited, said many people in Africa die of breast cancer as a result of a lack of awareness about the importance of early prevention, detection and treatment of killer disease especially at the grassroots levels.

The oncologist explained, “Generally, breast cancer is a disease that affects mostly women, but men also have breast cancer. For men, it is not as common as we have in women, and that is the reason nobody talks about breast cancer in men.

“Women should be consistent in examining their breasts and call the attention of an expert if anything unusual is detected.

“In this part of the world, people present very late. They come when the cancer has advanced. As a result, you will do your best, but you cannot cure the cancer.

” Cancer is curable when detected very early. It is the reason for having this campaign so that people can know that the whole essence is for them to go to the hospital, report the cases on time, detect them early, and be cured.”

Stressing the need for early detection of breast cancer, he added, “When it comes to breast cancer globally, we emphasise prevention, early detection, and early treatment.

“When we talk about prevention, we talk about creating awareness. For instance, letting people know what they can do to prevent cancer.”

Breast cancer screening can be done through mammograms, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound scans and breast self-examinations.

But experts say the latter is the first in a long process of life-saving measures that can stop breast cancer in its tracks

In an article published by the National Breast Cancer Foundation, a Johns Hopkins University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer, Lillie Shockney, states, “Forty per cent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”

Adeniji also debunked the claim that cancer is a death sentence, reiterating that cancer is curable when detected early.

The cancer specialist pointed out that some innovations in the management of cancers have now made it possible to successfully remove and tackle advanced cancers.

He, however, regretted the shortage of oncologists in the country and urged the government to tackle the brain drain by creating a conducive environment for medical practitioners.

A cancer survivor and Chief Executive Officer of Tinuke Cancer Foundation, Ms Tinu Lawal, said she was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago when the awareness was low, noting that low awareness caused many people to live in denial.

She however stated that there are facilities available to cure the ailment when detected early.

The Relationship Manager, Corporate Banking, Union Bank, Mr Oluyinka Kuyinu, said the quality of the health of citizens has an impact on the economy of the country.

He also stressed the need for early detection, adding that the private sector can work with organisations like Mecure to give discounts on screening and treatment for breast cancer.


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