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Breast cancer continues to wreak havoc, action is needed

BREAST cancer is a highly heterogeneous disease globally.

Public health prevention measures require an understanding of the burden of breast cancer and its risk factors. Most patients presents with advanced stages of the disease making management impossible.

This leads to an increase in breast cancer-related mortality. Little is known about knowledge and practices on breast cancer screening in Tanzania.

In the past 2 decades, little has been reported about breast cancer in Tanzania except for a few limited-scale studies.

All studies agreed on the advanced disease stage of diagnosis and advanced the possibility of a possibly high rate of male breast cancer.

Studies have suggested that up to 6.5 percent of all breast cancer patients in Tanzania are males, which is over 10-fold higher than the proportion seen in most other parts of the world.

Men can also get breast cancer but it is a rare case. Almost one per cent of all breast cancer cases affect men. As per the research data, it has been seen that cancer among male is more aggressive and common among obese male.

If symptoms are caught early, there is a good chance of recovery with treatments currently available.

Raising general public awareness on the breast cancer problem and the mechanisms to control as well as advocating for appropriate policies and programmes are key strategies of population-based breast cancer control.

Many low-and middle-income countries, Tanzania included, face now a double burden of breast and cervical cancer which represent top cancer killers in women over 30 years old.

These countries need to implement combined strategies that address both public health problems in an effective and efficient way.

Early diagnosis remains an important early detection strategy, particularly in low-and middle-income countries where the diseases is diagnosed in late stages and resources are very limited.

Women undergoing diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer are often faced with prohibitive out-of-pocket expenses related to treatment as well as associated travel and accommodation costs for those not living in urban centres.

Many women seek alternative treatments such as prayer camps and herbs. In a survey of women previously treated for breast cancer in Ghana, almost half had sought traditional therapies before seeking medical attention.

Adequate facilities and the capacity to offer treatment to women with breast cancer is critical to reducing mortality, and should be a focus of public health efforts in Sub Saharan Africa.

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Mwandishi: EDITOR

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