Men are not safe from breast cancer – Khupe

The Chronicle

Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Senior Health Reporter

IT’S been 11 years since Dr Thokozani Khupe survived breast cancer, proving true the claim that early detection increases chances of beating the disease. 

Dr Khupe was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2011 and underwent treatment and surgery which cost her one of her breasts.

In 2012 she founded an organisation — the Thokozani Khupe Cancer Foundation (TKCF) — to raise awareness on cancer as many women continue dying due to late detection and lack of awareness around cancer.

Breast cancer is undisputedly a rising epidemic worse than HIV and is the second leading cancer in Zimbabwe.

As the world dedicates the rest of October to raise awareness on breast cancer — a disease that has killed many women in Zimbabwe — Khupe has called on men to get screened too.

For years women have suffered and even succumbed to the killer disease, but recent studies show that men can also suffer and die from breast cancer. One in every 10 women will have breast cancer and one in every 100 men will also have breast cancer. 

“It is therefore important to note that men are affected and hence the need for both sexes to do screening and self-examination. Early detection of cancer saves lives. I am a living testimony of that. I was diagnosed 11 years ago but after treatment, I am cured and still alive even today,” said Khupe.

“The TKCF turns 10 years old this October as it was launched on the 24th of October 2012. We continue to advocate for the establishment of cancer screening and treatment facilities in all the 1 958 wards in Zimbabwe as well as that cancer screening and treatment must be available, affordable and accessible taking into consideration that we have only two hospitals catering for cancer,” she said.

Khupe said there should be an establishment of a Cancer Levy in line with the Aids Levy so that treatment is available, accessible and affordable for all in Zimbabwe.

“The sad reality is, women only discover that they have breast cancer when their cancer is at stage three or four, due to lack of awareness and barriers to health services. Stages three and four are advanced stages such that very little can be done,” she said.

Dr Thokozani Khupe

Breast and cervical cancer, which are the most common in Zimbabwe, are screened throughout the country with United Bulawayo Hospitals having a dedicated Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIAC) unit. 

According to latest figures published by the Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry (ZNCR), breast cancer accounted for eight percent of the most frequently occurring cancers among Zimbabweans of all races in 2017.

At 13,5 percent, breast cancer was noted as one of the leading causes of cancer among Zimbabwean black women.

The Breast Cancer Awareness Month helps to increase attention and support for awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of the disease.

According to the World Health Organisation, there is insufficient knowledge on the cause of breast cancer, therefore early detection of the disease remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control. – @thamamoe

Article Source: The Chronicle

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