Women aged 30 and above should go for regular checkups in order to prevent or be able to detect early cervical and breast cancers, which are the most prevalent cancers in women.
This warning was issued on Sunday by Dr Diane Gashumba, the Minister for Health, during an event to celebrate World Cancer Day.
Today, the world marks the World Cancer Day, which is organised to create awareness of the dangers associated with the different cancers.
In Rwanda, this day was marked in Kigali yesterday during the bimonthly workouts dubbed Car free Day, where people are able to test for different non-communicable diseases including cancers.
Gashumba urged the hundreds who attended the event, especially women, that they should undergo regular checkups, saying that the process is very easy.
“It is very easy to test for breast cancer. It just requires a simple massage on the breast and see if there is any abnormal ganglion, seeing if it has its normal colour and see if the nipple doesn’t disappear into the breast,” she said.
Cervical cancer is characterised by pains within lower abdomen and abnormal menstruation among others.
“In health centres, everyone who has mutuelle de santé is allowed to do a general checkup once a year, especially for women above 30 years, and men above 40,” she said.
Cervical cancer can spread through unprotected sexual intercourses, she said.
Besides, since 2012, there is a vaccine offered to girls of 12 years old against cervical cancer and the rollout has reached 93%, which will lead to a significant decrease in incidence of this particular cancer, she said.
Minister for Health Diane Gashumba (2nd left) and State Minister of State for Constitutional Affairs Evode Uwizeyimana take part in a physical exercise with Kigali residents during a car-free day as the country also marked World Cancer Day on Sunday. Marie Anne Dushimimana.
“For adults who didn’t get a chance to get immunised, we urge them to test for it regularly in order to get early treatment,” she said.
There are many types of cancers but in Rwanda, the major ones are; cervical cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and stomach cancer, according to Gashumba.
Elisabeth Kanakuze, 34, a resident of Kicukiro District, said she was not aware that even using mutuelle de santé card, someone can be able to have a cancer checkup.
“I knew it is good to do regular checkups, especially for these NCDs, but I always thought it was not accessible for mutuelle subscribers of which I am. This is a good thing for us and we should take advantage of it in order to maintain our health,” she said.
Meanwhile, the minister warned Rwandans against different social habits that could leave them vulnerable to cancers, including tobacco and alcohol consumption, bad eating habits including eating oily and sugary foods, and not exercising, among others.
According to available statistics in 2018, 10,704 new cases of cancer and 7,662 cancer related deaths were registered in Rwanda.
The survival rate of patients diagnosed with cancers is appallingly low in the developing world, including Rwanda.
In 2018, 18.1 million new cases of cancer were reported worldwide, and this number is expected to reach 24.6 million by 2030.