Time to act against breast cancer!

Nov 1, 2023, 10:58 AM | Article By: EDITORIAL

From number three behind liver cancer to number two, breast cancer has proven to be a stubborn ailment that must be tackled head on. Aside from its severity, breast cancer is posing serious problems to nations globally. It accounts for about 12.5% of newly diagnosed cancers in the country, according to WHO data.

The scary part is that it is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in The Gambia and the second most common cancer among women in The Gambia, second only to cervical cancer.

Statistics further revealed that it caused 685 000 deaths globally in 2020.

Last Saturday, Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) held the second edition of its free breast cancer screening at the hospital. The activity was basically to increase awareness about the devastating effects of cancer, inform the public on treatments and care and some of the risk factors that expose people to contracting the disease.

At the event, Dr. Cherno Jallow, head of Surgery Department at EFSTH, revealed that breast cancer was once number three behind liver cancer in The Gambia. But, as he put it, it has now overtaken liver cancer at number two, with cervical cancer being number one in the country. This is indeed scary and calls for concerted efforts to stem its further rise.

Let’s note that timely management or treating it early by undergoing screening would greatly help reducing its severity. Health experts revealed that it is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. There are different kinds of breast cancer. The kind of breast cancer depends on which cells in the breast are affected.

Besides, what is even scary is that roughly half of all breast cancers occur in women with no specific risk factors other than sex and age. This therefore, reminds us to be on top of issues especially those to do with our lifestyles. Certain factors that increase one’s risk of contracting, health experts say, includes increasing age, obesity, harmful use of alcohol, family history of breast cancer, history of radiation exposure and reproductive history, among a host of others.

We want to commend the management and team of doctors at EFSTH for their dedication and pragmatism in dealing with and managing serious health complications. What is even worth commending is that the institution didn’t stop there, but they went the extra mile to dedicate a day entirely ‘breast cancer day’, where patients with different breast conditions report for screening.

This speaks volumes of their stance and dedication in ensuring that quality health care service is brought to the doorsteps of Gambians.

Worth noting is that the treatment and care for breast cancer at the EFSTH is entirely free. Thus, it is important for people to show up on time when one suspects or experiences pain in their breast for early treatment. Statistics revealed that from October 2022 to October 2023, over 100 cases of patients with different breast conditions have been operated at the hospital.

We all know that the treatment of such complicated diseases is very expensive, especially breast cancer.

Let us not forget that managing a disease at an early stage helps in overcoming it, rather than waiting until it spreads all over one’s system. In such cases, its management and control is difficult.

It is important also we create more awareness about the disease. The disease is alarmingly spreading and women are the most impacted. The more we open up by raising awareness, the more we stand a better chance of eradicating it.