…Group rolls out programmes against the scourge
Breast cancer is said to cause high morbidity and mortality Rivers women and sometimes men, forcing a study to be initiated in Port Harcourt to measure prevalence. The Port Harcourt cancer registry situated at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, has found after 10 years survey that 777 cases (29 per cent) constituted the commonest cancer among both males and females.
The conclusion is that the burden of breast cancer is heavy in Port Harcourt, and the mean age is lower than the figures of developed nations. Many strategies are being adopted to tackle this, awareness being at the peak of these. Experts have submitted that “It is hoped that this first population-based cancer registry work on breast cancer in Port Harcourt and the environs will provide a framework for further epidemiologic cancer-related research activities in our locality.”
Apparently to drive the effort up, a group known as Engraced Life Foundation has struck partnership with the Rivers State Government through the Ministry of Health in alliance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to join efforts on this.
Engraced Life Foundation organised the annual Breast/Cervical Cancer Awareness Screening.
The theme for 2023 is: “Close the Care Gap”, and the event was held at the popular Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic (former SBS) in Rumuola, Port Harcourt.
The awareness exercise was spiced up with a Pink Naija Walk, the object being to kick out breast cancer. It does this by sensitizing the public, mostly women, to assemble at the venue and carry out free screening.
It also set to make people get informed about their current breast health status and as well have a clear understanding about breast/cervical cancer.
With the knowledge such as early detection, finding out current status, etc, victims would get help in quick commencement of medical care.
It would help give redress and solution to women who have already contacted the disease.
After the road walk, every registered participant converged at the venue for the screening, sensitization, and a brief health talk about remedial measures and steps that can be adopted to manage the high rise of breast/cervical cancer disease in the society and to save and preserve lives from being victims of the high rising plague of the disease.
In an interview with newsmen, the Nigeria Cancer Society and Founder of the Nest of Hope Cancer Advocacy and Support Community, Alhassan Umar, who was represented by a delegate, Dozie Akwarandu, simplified the significance of the cancer awareness event.
He identified the modifiable and non-modifiable factors that are closely related to cancer and breast cancer generally.
He revealed that; The cause of breast cancer is multifactorial. Several risk factors for breast cancer have been known nowadays.
The risk factors were differentiated into non modifiable risk factors: age, sex, genetic factors (5-7 per cent), family history of breast cancer, history of previous breast cancer and proliferative breast disease.
Modifiable risk factors were explained to include menstrual and reproductive factors, radiation exposure, hormone replacement therapy, alcohol and high fat diet.
Some environmental factors such as organochlorine chemicals, electromagnetic field and smoking were mentioned.
He further stated some ways that can serve as means to reduce and prevent breast cancer such as limit to alcohol. “The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. The general recommendation, based on research on the effect of alcohol on breast cancer risk, is to limit yourself to no more than one drink a day, as even small amounts increase risk.
He also talked about maintaining a healthy weight. “If your weight is healthy, work to maintain that weight. If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor about healthy strategies to accomplish this. Reduce the number of calories you eat each day and slowly increase the amount of exercise.”
The expert mentioned being physically active. “Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which helps prevent breast cancer. Most healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week, and many others.”
In her speech, The Founder of Engraced Life Foundation, stage4 breast cancer survivor, Ethel Olomu, gave detailed description of the agenda and reasons why the Engraced Life Foundation was established.
She said the Foundation was established because of empathy, passion, and concern for lack of awareness, lack of education, and lack of enlightenment in the breast cancer space.
She said this year (2023) happened to be a commemoration of previous years, and that the activities have been consistent with the road walk engagement followed by the screening sensitization and awareness”.
She stated further that Engraced Life Foundation is also tasked with the voluntary responsibility to see that women who were not financially capable to handle their health conditions and foot the bills for the breast cancer treatment got empowered with skills. “They are given the initiative of an empowerment program called ‘B Conference’.
“This conference is to help empower women to become proficient in various skills so as to cater for their hospital bills and live a better and healthy lifestyle.”
The annual event, she said, has been an avenue to reach out to the world and enlighten various communities that are situated in the country, to be aware about the high risk involved with the endemic menace, ravaging both the rich and poor and to also help instigate ameliorative measures to reduce its effect in the society.