Scores of women yesterday staged a march in Kigali to raise awareness about breast cancer.
The march, dubbed “Ulinzi walk,” was organised by Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa Inc (BCIEA Inc.) as part of the October cancer awareness month.
The march started from Rwanda Development Board’s parking lot in the afternoon and ended at Christ Church Rwanda in Gaculiro.
There was a community forum with doctors, survivors and supporters, whose emphasis was on early detection being the best protection.
Philippa Kibugu Decuir, founder and director of BCIEA Inc., said many women succumb to breast cancer because of lack of awareness.
“My journey is to bring breast cancer awareness because that’s how I survived, my sister died of breast cancer and that’s why I do what I do,” Kibugu said.
“Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate; in fact, of late it affects even younger women, and so early detection is the best protection.”
Medics from different hospitals across the country attended the forum.
Dr Washington Hill, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (Chuk), said if one delays to detect breast cancer, it becomes too dangerous.
Dr Pacifique Mugenzi, an oncologist at Rwanda Military Hospital, Kanombe, encouraged women to go for check-up.
“A check-up is simple than most people think and it is not even expensive,” he said, adding that one’s family history is one of the most risky factors.
“Research on breast cancer, about a lot of unanswered questions is promising and there is hope for breast cancer vaccine,” Dr Mugenzi added.
Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that 6.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2008 and 2013.
Breast cancer is the commonest cause of cancer deaths among women, having killed 522,000 women in 2012 alone. And it is the leading cause of cancer deaths in developing countries.
Information from Butaro Cancer Centre shows that breast cancer accounts for 40.3 per cent of all the cancers diagnosed in the country.
Most cancers are preventable. Medics say changing eating habits, tastes,and lifestyle choices may reduce the risk for breast cancer or any cancer.
Some of the ways to reduce risk for cancer, include reducing alcohol intake as well as stopping smoking.
Medics also caution against animal fat: they advise one to choose the leanest cuts of meat and chicken, eat fish like tilapia, catfish, salmon and tuna instead of red meat.
Vegetarians are said to have a lower incidence of cancer; so minimising animal fat intake is a possible prevention measure.