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Kenya concerned over rising breast cancer cases

Friday January 13, 2012 08:37:17 AM, IANS

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Nairobi: The Kenyan government Thursday expressed concern over the rising cases of breast cancer in the country, saying one out of nine women is affected.

Health Minister Beth Mugo said breast cancer accounts for five percent of all malignancies in the country and appealed to women to go for early check-up to curb the soaring figure.

The minister disclosed that she also suffers from the disease, which saw her disappear from public limelight for three months, Xinhua reported.

"I am still alive thanks to the routine medical check-up during which I was diagnosed with breast cancer late last year which forced me to seek treatment locally and in the United States," she told a media briefing in Nairobi to announce her return to work.

"I am now fully recovered after the malignant growth was removed through surgery. Breast cancer does not discriminate and nobody is safe from it.

"I am calling upon all women in Kenya to look out for early signs of breast cancer and seek medical opinion at the earliest possible to avoid the disease moving to stage three and four during which it moves to other parts of the body, thereby making it difficult to treat," she said.

Mugo becomes the second minister in Kenya to go public about suffering from cancer after her medical services minister Anyang' Nyong'o, with whom she shares the same office floor, announced early 2011 he was suffering from prostate cancer.

Nyong'o underwent intensive modulated radiation (IMRT) treatment at the University of California in San Francisco's Mount Zion Medical Centre in the US.

Upon his return, he declared his experience was a wake-up call for Kenyans to build comprehensive cancer care centres in the country.

Mugo said due to the high turnover of cancer cases in the country, a draft cancer bill is ready for presentation in parliament which aims to increase Kenyans' access to cancer treatment.

If passed, the legislation will help decentralize cancer treatment facilities so that Kenyans across the country can access proper care and increase early diagnosis and thereby saving thousands of lives each year.

The bill will also provide funding for measures to improve Kenya's cancer treatment technology and to train more oncologists.

Unlike in the past when public figures in Kenya would wade through various ailments in secrecy, many are choosing to go public as a way of demystifying their conditions and to encourage Kenyans to undergo frequent medical check-ups.

Kenya registers over 21,000 annual deaths from late diagnosis and lack of treatment of cancer and is still using technology discarded 20 years ago to fight cancer, forcing those who can afford to seek treatment abroad with the latest technology and chemotherapy.







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