Breast Cancer: Rural communities neglected

The Thokozani Khuphe Cancer Foundation has urged the government and civil society organisations to impart knowledge about breast cancer to rural communities.

October is the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, marked in countries across the world and it seeks to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection, and treatment as well as palliative care of this disease.

In an interview with CITE, breast cancer survivor and politician Dr. Thokozani Khuphe said the government must take deliberate steps to ensure people in rural areas are educated on such conditions.

“At the same time, we need health institutions because even if people want to know they do not have a place to go and this is why as a Thokozani Khuphe Cancer Foundation we are saying the government should build health institutions in all the 1958 wards in Zimbabwe so that at least people have a few kilometers to walk to get to health institutions were they are checked,” said Dr. Khuphe.

 She added that most rural women often succumb to cancer due to late diagnosis and limited access to information and proper health centres.

“Very little knowledge is there about breast cancer in the rural areas, women do not know and by the time they know about it, it would have popped out and when it does initially they just think it just a ball but when they go to health institutions they find out its breast cancer at an advanced stage,” said Dr. Khuphe.

Dr Khuphe also noted that cultural beliefs and misconceptions about such conditions often prevents people from seeking proper health care.  

“In the majority of cases, people think they have been bewitched this is what goes around once they feel that lump or something has happened so when we start giving them information and telling them our experiences that is when they realize it is important to do self-examinations, it is important that once you feel something unusual you should go to a health institution,” she said.

She added that men should also pay attention to breast cancer, as it may also affect them.

“I know of prominent men who have died from breast cancer and if you read in the media even Beyoncé’s father was diagnosed with breast cancer so people must know that cancer has no boundaries it can affect both women and men,” she said.

A male participant who was part of the event noted that men are disadvantaging themselves by not taking part in such event as cancer affects everyone.

“Being a man only a few men take cancer seriously and half the time women visit doctors more often than men and attending events like this is a privilege because cancer is one of the worst diseases you can experience,” he said.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), currently there is not sufficient knowledge on the causes of breast cancer, therefore, early detection of the disease remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.

When breast cancer is detected early, and if adequate diagnosis and treatment are available, there is a good chance that breast cancer can be cured. 

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