Davison Kaiyo Correspondent
According to the latest National Cancer Registry Report, over 80 percent of cancer cases are diagnosed at end stage in Zimbabwe, amid revelations that a total of 7 165 new cases were recorded in 2015, comprising 3 041 (42,4 percent) males and 4 124 (57,6 percent) females.
Breast cancer accounted for 11,9 percent of the female cancers recorded in 2015. A total of 17 male breast cancers were registered in the same year.
Statistics from 2016 and 2017 are yet to be published, but indications are that there will be an increase in the reported cases, as the trend from 2009 where 3 519 cases recorded, to the 7 165 recorded in 2015, shows.
The most frequently occurring cancers among Zimbabweans were cervix uteri (19 percent), prostate (9 percent), breast (7 percent), Kaposi sarcoma (KS) (7 percent), non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) (6 percent), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) (6 percent), esophagus (5 percent), colo-rectal (4 percent) and stomach (3 percent). The other cancers accounted for 34 percent of the registered malignancies. This is according to the National Cancer Registry Report for 2015.
The same report also states that the leading causes of cancer among Zimbabwean black men in 2015 were prostate cancer (22,5 percent), followed by KS (10,8 percent), NHL (7,9 percent), esophagus (6,9 percent), liver (5,1 percent), stomach (3,9 percent), NMSC (3,6 percent), lung (3,5 percent), colon (2,9 percent) and eye (2,6 percent).
Cervix cancer was the commonest malignancy in Zimbabwean black women (34,8 percent). This was followed by breast (11,6 percent), NHL (4,7 percent), KS (4,6 percent), esophagus (4,6 percent), stomach (3,3 percent), NMSC (2,8 percent) ovary (2,6 percent), eye (2,4 percent) and liver (2,1 percent).
However, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg as many cancers are not captured by the routine National Health Information System because the patients do not present for treatment, and or some deaths are not registered.
This shows that there is a rising cancer burden on the country and holistic approach is, therefore, needed to address this challenge. While so much attention and resources have been channelled towards the fighting against HIV and AIDS, a development that saw Zimbabwe emerge as one of the success stories in Africa, with an HIV prevalence rate of 13,9 percent, not much it seems has been done about the silent killer, cancer.
It is in this regard that we have the month of October as the Breast Cancer Awareness Month among other set aside days and months to raise awareness of cancers.
According to online reports, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual international health campaign organised by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease.
The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer. Breast cancer awareness month is yearly campaigns that intend to educate people about the importance of early screening, test and more.
This campaign starts on October 1 and ends on October 31 every year. Aiming, to “fill the information void” about breast cancer, the early mission of Breast Cancer Awareness Month was to educate and empower women to “take charge of their breast health.”
In addition to advertising, there is free exposure through word of mouth, clinical promotion, workplace and community initiatives, and political representatives. For years, the programme encouraged routine self-breast exams and annual mammograms and this year is no different as the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe is running screening programmes in conjunction with other partners.
This is a global attempt to increase awareness of breast cancer and to remind women and men alike about the value of early detection.
Cancer is a disease that affects large numbers of people from all walks of life. Diagnosis of cancer induces fear both in the individual and in families, and is frequently viewed as a death sentence.
Its prevention, diagnosis and treatment poses great challenges, particularly in resource-constrained environments. It is, therefore, imperative that cancer is given as much attention as HIV/AIDS is given.
Our artistes must also sing about cancer to educate the people the same way they do or did for HIV.
In its early days, HIV/AIDS was also viewed as a death sentence and a lot of stigmatisation was attached to the disease.
Through education and raising awareness, the attitudes have improved and now people can live a normal life as long as they take the ARV consistently and live a positive life.