FREE SCREENING ONGOING

70% of cancer patients in Nyeri have breast cancer — DG Karugu

County carrying out month-long free screening ending mid-November

In Summary

• Deputy governor says statistics only two women are screened per day despite the machine having a capacity to test 15 people every hour.

• About 1,200 people had been screened by Tuesday against the target of 3,000

Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu and Radio Africa Group regional manager John Gachahi after the DG was hosted by Gukena FM in Nyeri on November 5
SCOURGE: Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu and Radio Africa Group regional manager John Gachahi after the DG was hosted by Gukena FM in Nyeri on November 5
Image: EUTYCAS MUCHIRI

Seven out of 10 cancer patients seeking treatment at the Nyeri County Referral Hospital are suffering from breast cancer, Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu has said. 

As a result, she said, most of those seeking cancer treatment at the facility are women (98 per cent). 

The DG said this is according to a recent baseline study done at the hospital which indicated that breast cancer was the most common cancer treated at the facility last year. 

 
 

Karugu spoke on Tuesday night on Gukena FM in Nyeri about the ongoing month-long free breast cancer screening.  

“I have organised this free breast cancer screening exercise after realizing that most women rush to the hospital when it is too late,” she said.

She called on women to go for screening whenever they discover anything suspicious in their breasts. 

Karugu said although every county has a mammogram machine, statistics at the referral hospital reveal that only two are tested per day despite the machine having a capacity to test 15 people every hour.

This is because people have not been visiting the hospital voluntarily for screening. “So the machine is grossly underutilised."

The machine, she said, is used only when doctors send patients for further examinations. Karugu emphasised on the need for women above 40 years to voluntarily go for cancer screening. 

 

A mammogram screening is a kind of X-Ray done on the breast to check for cancer and is recommended yearly for all women above 40.

 

The screening campaign spearheaded by the DG started on October 9 and will run until November 15. About 1,200 people had been screened by Tuesday, Karugu said. 

Out of the number, about 400 have gone through mammogram while others received sensitisation.

She said more nurses, two radiographers and two sonographers had been engaged to back county health workers and ease work during the exercise.

She said vans have been provided to transport people from villages to the facility with priority being given to the sick, disabled and the elderly.

Education on breast health and self-examination is also being offered to enable them to do the self-exam at home. 

The DG said the exercise is targeting 3,000 women in the county; 100 women in each of its 30 wards.

To hit or even surpass the target, Karugu said Community Health Volunteers have been trained and stationed in lower health facilities and are training people on breast health. 

During the launch of the exercise last month, the DG said the campaign was targeting more than 10,000 women aged 40 and above for mammography and breast health education. 

She called on residents go for breast cancer screening once in a year. 

The mass breast cancer screening is being sponsored by multinational firm General Electric (GE) through the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP).

Other partners are the Ministry of Health and the Aga Khan University Hospital.

The test, Karugu said, will be done using ultra-modern digital screening mammography machines.

According to 2018 cancer statistics, breast cancer affects over two million women globally. 

She said close to 6,000 new cases are reported yearly and account for over 2,500 deaths making it the third leading cause of all cancer deaths in Kenya.

Women between 35 and 45 are at a higher risk of being affected. 

She called on women to ignore myths that surround taking a mammogram examination which many believe is dangerous.

Edited by R.Wamochie