KAMPALA, UGANDA: While women are encouraged to always check their breasts to look out for any possible swellings five to ten days every after their monthly periods, experts at the Uganda Cancer Institute say men should do the same at any time during the month.
Dr. Noleb Mugisha, an oncologist who heads screening services says many men wrongly think that the recommended self-breast exam is meant for women, and yet a man has to be aware of how their breasts appear under normal circumstances to be able to tell when swellings appear.
He says men can get other swellings in their breasts that aren’t cancerous but it is only through examination that this will be ruled out.
While globally, only one percent of the breast cancer cases are among men, Mugisha says at the cancer institute, men accounted for seven percent of the over 500 cases of breast cancer that they recorded last year.
When it comes to screening, he says whenever it is talked about, the general feeling by men is that it is a problem of women.
At a press conference organized by the Uganda National NCDs Alliance as part of the events to mark the October Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Mugisha lamented that most men with breast cancer report late, making it hard to treat and cure them.
Christopher Kwizera who heads the alliance said during their recent trips to their collaborators in the countryside, they realized that the vaccination figures posted by the Ministry of Health only tell part of the story.
Cancer patients and survivors just like other Non-Communicable Diseases had been prioritized by the Ministry of Health for jabs because of their compromised immunity, but Kwizera says these people are still not turning up for jabs even now when they are accessible at the lowest points in upcountry districts.
He says government seems not to know who the people living with NCDs are and where they are. For him, they ought to have put up separate centers targeting them considering that they account for majority of the over three thousand COVID-19 deaths so far recorded.
Meanwhile, Rebecca Kiziri Mayengo, who heads the Uganda Women Cancer Support Organisation said initially, the pandemic hit them hard that they could no longer conduct screening and awareness campaigns.
Effects of this are being seen now as more people who had been referred early on to bigger facilities for further checks are only turning up now.
He worries this may fuel late presentation which is already high, where 75% of cancer patients turn up late for treatment.