THE STATISTICS are really scaring, every week at least five new cases are seen at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Cancer Clinic and the number keeps growing of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer.
In a chat with HealthStylePlus during a recent visit by team of Health Journalists Academy, (HJA), Executive Director, Run for A Cure Africa, (RFCA) Ebele Mbanugo, “getting Nigerian women to develop the much needed courage to get an early diagnosis of a possibility of developing cancer has been a huge challenge that has fuelled the increase in breast cancer cases”.
She regretted that even at the Wednesday clinics, “we sometimes see ten women referred to see the doctors for treatment and one beauty of the new breast cancer clinic is that it is a one-stop centre that has helped improved chances that women are delayed before been attended to; however the systems still needs to be changed so allow more women complete their cycle of treatment uninterrupted (by strikes) and man-made encumbrances”, said Mbanugo.
Mbanugo who is on a mission with the Run for A Cure Africa to raise the level of awareness and support women diagnosed with breast cancer to raise funds for treatment as well as support research for cure told the HJA team that her passion was fired by the recent passage of her mother, who died of the disease after living with it for nearly a decade.
According to her, If most of the women who are seen at the clinic usually with stage three or four of cancers had been seen much earlier, their prognosis would have been better but it is often not the case from what we have seen here since the clinic commenced operations in March 2016”.
As a way to help patients meet the target of early diagnosis, prompt treatment and care, the new set up of Run for A cure Africa, an NGO is launching another project in partnership with LUTH, ‘Patients’ Navigational Programme’ on Wednesday, May 25, 2016.
Mbanugo describes the project as “a unique model in which trained hands will seat with patients after she has been seen by the doctors at the clinic, to take her through the process of treatment and will follow her up with support to ensure she not only understands the steps to go through but how to waltk through the process and end up with very good outcome, ensuring her life is preserved”.
She noted that most often, patients’ compliance with treatment schedules are defaulted because no one is available to go through the process with them lending some personal touch and emotional support needed at such critical moments”.
The Patient Navigation Programme will help provide practical advice to women as they navigate their treatment for breast cancer. It will help the patient understand diagnosis and survivorship plans, as well as give advice on access to services and funding. Additionally, the Patient Navigator is a knowledgeable resource working as a link to coordinate communication between the specialist Breast Care Team and the patient.
The Patient Navigation Programme is here to provide ongoing personal support to breast cancer patients and their families throughout their treatment and beyond. Helping them navigate their way through this often scary and overwhelming time, and improve their chances of survival.
According to the Programme Director, Chiedu Chukwumah, “RFCA research found that many women don’t complete breast cancer treatment for a multitude of complex psychological, economic & social reasons. Patient Navigation has been proven to help them combat these issues and complete treatment successfully, thus greatly improving survival rates.”