Over 400 women attended cancer screening events at Kasabuni Baptist Church in Baba Dogo, Nairobi, and Kosao Hall in Kisumu, organized by Population Services(PS) Kenya in partnership with Stanbic Bank.
This was the first of a series of events planned to take place in various areas of the country to mark the Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Women aged 25 years and above were screened for breast and cervical cancer in a bid to decrease preventable deaths through early detection.
“We are grateful for our partnership with Stanbic Bank who have funded the screening events that have started taking place take in various parts of the country. Our primary goal is to increase the detection of breast and cervical cancers in their early stages and hence improve prognosis and reduce the number of preventable deaths,” said Joyce Wanderi, Chief Executive Officer, PS Kenya.
PS Kenya worked with the Tunza Health Network providers (a PS Kenya social franchise) to provide breast cancer screening for women while at the same time empowering them to self-screen themselves regularly.
The screening was integrated with cervical cancer screening which used the “Screen and Treat model”. PS Kenya has previously used this method in partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation from 2012-2016.
Here, a Visual Inspection with Acetic acid (VIA) was used to detect early changes that are visible when using a speculum to inspect the cervix with the naked eye after applying dilute (3-5percent) acetic acid to it.
The positive cases are then treated with a Cryotherapy Machine immediately, hence the “Screen and Treat” terminology.
“This is a cheaper method for detecting early cell changes and has made screening affordable for all women above the age of 25 at an average cost of Shs. 500. We will mobilize the communities around the centers where the events will take place using community health workers to raise awareness about the importance of early screening and its affordability. We will ask those who turn up for screening to tell their relatives and friends,” said Ms. Wanderi.
Besides early detection, diagnosed patients will be referred to leading hospitals for better treatment. This coming Saturday the screening events will be held in Thika, Nairobi and Mombasa.
“We are happy to be a part of this project as a funding partner because the cancer burden continues to affect all of us, exerting significant strain on populations and health systems at all income levels. In 2018, there were an estimated 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths globally. In Kenya, cancer is the 3rd leading cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases. Early screening and detection can save more lives and that is the aim of this partnership,” said Pauline Mbaya, Head Stanbic Bank Foundation.
Overall, breast cancer registers 5,985 new cases in Kenya, accounting for 12.5 percent of all new cancer cases, and 20.9% in women alone (GLOBOCAN, 2018). In the same period, it accounted for 9.2 percent of all cancer deaths, making it the third leading cause of all cancer deaths in the country.
Available data shows that majority of breast cancer patients present in late stage, contributing to higher mortality and low overall survival.
In Kenya, cervical cancer contributes 5,250 (12.9percent) of the new cancer cases annually and 3,286 (11.84 percent) of all cancer deaths annually. It is a leading cause of cancer related deaths in Kenya and the 2nd most common cancer among females. (GLOBOCAN, 2018). According to WHO 2018, 33 per 100,000 women in Kenya have cervical cancer and 22 per 100,000 die from the disease.
Over seventy percent of cancer patients in Kenya are diagnosed at an advanced stage.