Thika residents were beneficiaries of a free cancer screening at the Thika Level 5 Hospital as the world marked the National Cancer Survivors Day.
According to the World Health Organization, cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide, and accounted for nearly 10 million deaths between 2020 and 2022 worldwide.
The day sought to bring awareness on early detection of the disease, with this year’s theme being A Celebration of Life- I am Thriving, where residents were encouraged to go for frequent cancer screenings offered at the hospital, as lives can be saved if cancers are detected early.
“The most common types of cancer we have in Kenya are breast, lung, cervical, colon, and prostate. Most are consistent with live styles like intake of tobacco products, high body mass index, alcohol consumption, low fruit and vegetable intake and lack of physical activity. There are also cases where the cancers are caused by infections like the human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis. These are extremely prevalent in low and middle-income countries,” said Dr Jack Oduor, an oncologist at the hospital.
“Nevertheless, more than half of those that have been diagnosed early have survived once they started treatment. We also urge them to strictly follow instructions given by their doctors and nutritionists to ensure that they have a fighting chance at beating the disease. The biggest issue we encounter however is psychological.
For most patients, once they are diagnosed, they shut down emotionally and mentally and unfortunately once this happens, the physical follows suit. This is why awareness is important, because we want people to know that cancer is not a death sentence. It can be treated and managed but only if it is detected early,” Dr Oduor advised.
Wanja Wa Maina, a breast cancer survivor present during the screening said she was alive only because the disease was detected early.
“I found a lump in my breast while taking a shower and I immediately sought medical treatment. I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, placed on treatment and two years later I am now cancer free.
It was not an easy journey but I survived and I am here to encourage people who have been diagnosed or who have friends and family ailing from the disease to not give up. It is treatable,” assured Wanja.
Apart from screening for cervical, breast, prostate and colon cancer, the residents were also sensitized on the treatment and management of cancer in case they or their loved one were diagnosed with the disease.
By Hellen Lunalo