Patient involvement key in treating breast cancer

Monday, June 5th, 2023 04:40 | By
cancer warrior
Image used for illustration. PHOTO/Illustrator

Cancer patient advocacy officers and researchers are calling for increased patient involvement in shaping approaches to cancer research and treatment in Kenya.

This is aimed at addressing the alarming challenges in breast cancer care and management and to reinforce existing health policies, programme planning, and healthcare delivery approaches.

Speaking during a media roundtable facilitated by Pfizer, representatives from Kenya Network of Cancer Organisations (KENCO), and Centre for Public Health Development (CPHD) highlighted the need for patient involvement in research to limit the negative impact cancer has had on people’s lives, environment, and economy.

Evan Mapelu(pictured), Director at Kenyan Network of Cancer Organisations (KENCO) says this approach is aimed at making it possible for women to access breast cancer diagnosis and treatment as well as addressing the psychological distress for most cancer patients.

He says patients’ inclusion will further ensure that cancer patients have access to quality treatment, care and support.

“Thanks to the progress made in healthcare over the recent past, breast cancer and other types of cancers are no longer a death sentence. Patient advocacy should, therefore, extend into education programmes, so that more and more women are shielded from the psychological torture related to healthcare access,” he echoed.

East Africa’s Pfizer Oncology Medical Manager for Dr Josephine Muiru said, they are yet to find a way to prevent or cure all cancers, so it is vital key stakeholders bring in the perspectives of those who are walking through the cancer journey and   support them with a holistic cancer care approach. “Remain committed to providing this support, from working with healthcare professionals by helping them understand the needs of people living with cancer and how to best communicate with them,” said Muiru.

Limited cancer research both in capacity and availability to inform healthcare policy has largely contributed to the lethal prevalence of breast Cancer.

According to the 2020 GLOBOCAN Report on Global Cancer Burden, the annual incidence of cancer was reported as 42,116 cases in 2023. In Kenya, cancer is the third leading cause of death and the second leading cause of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) deaths after cardiovascular diseases. A 2020 report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), found that new cases of all types of cancers increased to nearly 20 million worldwide.

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