By Louvier Kindo Tombe
Delphine was breastfeeding her 6 months old baby when suddenly she noticed a sharp pain on her left breast. She never imagined that it could be cancer. Three months later after she stopped breastfeeding the child, she noticed a lump in the breast and then decided to visit the hospital.
“In my mind, i did not have time for cancer”, Delphine said.
Delphine is a single mother, 41 years old and mother of 3 children.
Just like her, most women and young girls are ignorant of breast cancer, it’s risk factor, signs and symptoms.
Breast cancer is a disease which occurs when some breast cells begin to grow abnormally and divide more rapidly than healthy cells do and continue to accumulate, forming a lump or mass.
In 2020, the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization, Global Cancer Observatory indicated that 4170 new cancer cases were detected in Cameroon and 1817 in Senegal.
The month of October is dedicated to raising awareness on breast cancer. This year, as part of activities to mark the month, a round table in the form of a webinar was organized by Pfizer bringing together health experts and media practitioners from some Central and West Africa countries.
“Oncology remains a key therapeutic domain for Pfizer”, says Dr. Kodjo Soroh, Medical Director of Pfizer for East and West Africa.
“We work to achieve medical breakthrough with the potential of changing the lives of patients in the regions significantly”, he added.
Dr. Kodjo Soroh chaired the webinar that held on Friday October 28, 2022. During the round table, the different health specialists invited the public to embrace early screening and regular self examinations as well as medical consultations.
“If patients play a role in their treatment process, it will encourage them to take informed decisions for themselves”, Dr. Sango Anne Juliette Flora, an Oncologist Radiotherapist, scribe of an oncology unit in Cameroon said during the webinar.
She discouraged the idea of people believing more in spirituality and witchcraft as causes of breast cancer in the country.
“Most people decide to visit a religious leader or a tradi-practitionier in Cameroon with cases of breast cancer and turn to the hospital as last resort”, she noted.
That habit “has to change,” she added.
Breast cancer awareness month is a perfect occasion for Pfizer to contribute it’s own quota in the fight.
In a release that sanctioned the October 28 webinar, Pfizer indicates that “cancer treatment is motivated by the hope to move on thanks to all and sundry. Beginning with the decision and actions of every one, friends, community, scientists and researchers who consecrate their efforts in developing new treatments.”
“We cannot over emphasize on the importance of clinical research in the treatment of breast cancer”, Dr. Maimouna Mané said, adding that; ” collaborations are essential as they permit actors to share ideas and discoveries which can help patients win the breast cancer battle.”
According to Dr. Sango Anne Juliette Flora, “multiparty collaboration is key in breast cancer treatment.”
One major obstacle to the treatment of breast cancer is finance. Cancer treatment is financially complex, but health experts advice on the use of alternative prevention measures.
In Cameroon, it is way most costly than in Senegal, and this for obvious reasons. The government of Senegal provides subvention in the fight against breast cancer, whereas that is not the case in Cameroon.
Worth noting is the fact that it is very difficult to carry on with breast cancer treatment of the causes are not duly identified.
“It is and added advantage to give a human face to breast cancer treatment based on scientific evolution in treatment in Cameroon”, Dr. Sango Anne said.
Cameroon does not have a National Cancer Palliative Care Institution, though pockets of organizations and institutions are involved in it.
Pfizer, Inc., is one of the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical and biomedical companies, dedicated to discovering, developing, manufacturing, and marketing prescription medications for both humans and animals.
They have been assisting breast cancer patients and the entire cancer community for over 20 years now with clear objectives. They focus on offering more treatment options and breakthroughs for all across the world.
Pfizer recently launched a new product which helps in improving breast cancer diagnosis and treatment (IbranceⓇ (palbociclib), which is combined with Aromatase Inhibitor (Al), as compared to Al alone), especially as patient types in Sub-Saharan Africa are not the same like those in the West.
However, the moderator of the October 28, Sylvie Kounde, clarified that “we are still far from coming up with a vaccine against breast cancer.”