By Abuchi Onwumelu
The Eldorado Multi-Specialist Hospital, Awka, has launched a digital mammogram machine used for early detection of breast cancer with a call on Nigerians that cancer is readily preventable and curable when detected early.
In her address of welcome, the Manager and Matron of Eldorado Multi-Specialist Hospital, Awka, Mrs. Isuh Chinelo Francisca, said that after four years of operation, the management decided to acquire a mammography machine to address cases of breast cancer among women in the Eastern part
Isuh said the intention of the management was not exploitative in nature, hence the provision of accessible and affordable health care services.
She said the with the availability of the machine in Awka, which, she said, was the only one fully functioning in the state, there would be no reason for people to suffer breast cancer any more if they embarked on routine test of their breasts.
In her paper presentation entitled, “Overview of Breast Cancer Screening”, an oncologist, Dr. Brenda Nwamuo, said the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Nigeria as the fourth highest nation devastated by the scourge of breast cancer and other cancer related deaths.
Making a global and national comparative analysis of the breast cancer occurrences during the presentation of the pandemic, she quoted the World Health Organization (WHO) Survey of 2014 as stating that about 4.4 million deaths were recorded annually, pointing out that 400,000 deaths were also recorded annually.
She disclosed further that one million new cases occurred annually, while 1.7 million new cases would be diagnosed.
Dr. Nwamuo said: ‘WHO records also reveal that one million new cases are recorded yearly and 4.4 million women are currently living with the disease across the world.
‘The record also shows that an estimated 1.7 million women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the year 2020, mostly from the developing world, representing a 26 per cent increase from the current level,’ she said.
Nwamuo of the Radiology Department, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, noted that though cancer remained the commonest disease among women in the black race and Africa, it did not become a death sentence with early detection with mammography manned by a highly qualified radiographer and quality treatment to save lives.
‘Breast cancer is a disease, but it does not pose as a death sentence if detected early enough with mammography manned by a competent radiographer and treated appropriately.
‘When genes that ensure healthy living are affected, the cells in the body form benign or malignant tumour. The cancer cells keep moving and entering blood stream and other parts of the body like the chest, liver and brain.
Dr. Nwamuo noted that risk factors that dispose human beings, especially women, to develop cancer included age, family history, race, early menstruation, lifestyle, alcohol, diet, physical activities, pregnancy and breast feeding.
While noting that men were also prone to the cancer scourge which cells were however, reduced by testosterone hormone, she listed advanced age of sixty years, family history, liver, obesity, and radiation exposure as risk factors for men.
The oncologist said that breast cancer signs to look out for in women included thick area, dimple crust, red or hot spot, unexpected fluid, skin sores, growing vein, sunken nipple, new size or shape of breast, orange peel, hard lump and bump.
The late symptoms, according to her, included double vision, muscle weakness, headache, nausea, cough, and shortness of breath, jaundice, loss of appetite, weight loss, and bone pain.
She warned women, who opt for quack operators, traditional medicine practitioners and prayer warriors, when they noticed such symptoms, stressing that people should go for breast cancer check once in a year.
While commending the management of Eldorado Multi-Specialist Hospital, Awka, for being the first to acquire a modern mammography machine in Anambra State, she added that breast cancer began when healthy cells in the breast changed and grew out of control to spread to other parts of the body liker liver, chest and brain.
The oncologist cautioned against high consumption of red meat and processed meat for adults aged forty years and above, emphasizing the need to embrace physical activities for at least forty five minutes per day, in addition to high consumption of fruits and vegetables.
In his remarks, Dr Simeon Onyemaechi, the Executive Secretary, Anambra State Health Insurance Agency (ASHIA) who represented Governor Obiano, expressed the gratitude of the state government with the innovation of the institution, and pledged to patronize, as well as partner with it to ensure quality healthcare delivery as envisioned by the state government.
The governor’s representative said the government was desirous of turning the state into a medical tourism of some sort, and commended the management of the hospital which he described as among the service providers under the state’s health insurance scheme.
He called for pooling of resources and collaboration among health specialists to set up multi-specialists hospitals, rather than mushroom clinics, arguing that it was the only way to improve health care services.
Also, Mr C Don Adinuba, the Anambra Commissioner for Information and Enlightenment, said the state would partner Eldorado Multi-Specialist Hospital to tackle the breast cancer scourge.
The high-point of the event was the unveiling of the newly acquired mammogram machine by the Governor of Anambra State who represented by the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Vincent Okpala; practical demonstration of breast cancer detection by the President of Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria, Dr. Ifeoma Ajuba, who pointed out that once breast cancer was detected early enough, it could be prevented.