As part of activities marking the breast cancer awareness month which is held annually in October, Nigeria’s leading Public Relations agency, MediaCraft Associates in collaboration with Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC at the weekend organised a breast and cervical cancer awareness and screening for 25 women in Lagos.
The Medical Director, Optimal Cancer Foundation, Dr. Femi Olaleye, who was the guest speaker, told participants that it was necessary for women to perform self-checks on their breasts at least once a month for early detection of lumps that might be cancerous.
He explained that only 20 percent of all lumps detected in the breast are cancerous, but cautioned against self-interpretation as he encouraged women to get medical assistance to ascertain the condition.
Olaleye stated that while breast cancer kills one in 25 women in Nigeria, it can be avoided through a deliberate policy by the government to increase awareness and provide access to medical intervention.
“One in 25 Nigerian women is at risk in their lifetime to suffer from breast cancer. If all those women are taught how to examine their breasts and they do it religiously every month, when that ‘one in 25 is having the tiny lump’, she will be able to discover it early and will no longer be another statistic of cancer,” he said.
Dr. Olaleye who previously worked with the NHS cited the UK’s commitment to tackling the health challenge by dedicating £4 billion to the cause. He bemoaned the absence of a government policy at the state or federal level to address the situation in Nigeria.
He also shed some light on cervical cancer, encouraging women to perform tests annually to avoid the cervix from deteriorating as a result of the late diagnosis which might result in the death of the patient.
He noted that while breast cancer can be detected through self-check and mammogram, cervical cancer can be detected through a pap smear, a medical means that is performed by a physician.
Participants were offered on the spot screening for cervical cancer, and also a demonstration of how to check for lumps in the breast was performed.
The breast and cervical cancer screening, sponsored by Stanbic IBTC, was then carried out on all the women who were at the event. It is important to note that health is one of the core pillars of the organisation’s CSI. The screening was done by the team from Optimal Cancer Care Foundation.