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Aga Khan University Hospital launches clinic to manage breast cancer treatment complications

<p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">Surgery plays an important role in the management of
patients with breast cancer. The vast majority of women in this country have
mastectomy which essentially means removal of the breast. Though breast
conservation surgery is slowly picking up for a small select population, many
women are not candidates for this due to advanced nature of the disease at the
stage of presentation.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">According to Mr David Makumi, Manager, cancer program at the
Aga Khan University Hospital; there are numerous initiatives on screening for
early detection but very little attention has been paid to rehabilitation of
those who have had breast cancer treatment. Women are often discharged from
hospital with little or no advice on how to cope with altered self-image and
complications like lymphedema.  This is
further compounded by lack of dedicated rehabilitation services and high cost
of the products that can enable women restore their sense of self-worth,
dignity and confidence.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;"> “Most women are
constantly self-conscious about how they look especially if the breast has been
removed or if they have developed other complications’’ says Mr Makumi.  Patients have been known to develop
depression, poor coping and other psychological problems due to difficulties
arising from their altered image. This is a result of poor and or inadequate
rehabilitation.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">One of the commonest complications of breast cancer surgery
is lymphedema which is a buildup of lymph fluid that occurs when lymph vessels
or nodes in which fluid travels through are missing, damaged, or removed.  Any woman whose lymph nodes are affected by
breast cancer treatment can get lymphedema according to Prof. Ronald Wasike, a
Consultant Breast Surgeon.  In most
cases, lymphedema develops slowly over time. The swelling can range from mild
to severe. It can start soon after surgery and/or radiation therapy treatment.
But it can also start months or even many years later.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">The Aga Khan University Hospital in response to the unmet
needs of women who have had breast surgery, launched the first ever dedicated
breast cancer rehabilitation clinic in the country.  Victoria Musyoka, a lymphedema therapist at
Aga Khan University Hospital said, “The clinic will be held every Friday and
will handle post cancer treatment patients who have undergone surgery and
radiation therapy to help them cope with complications.  Teaching sessions will be held during the
clinic to empower patients with skills to perform self-lymphatic fluid
drainage, management of shoulder stiffness among others.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;"> The clinic will also
avail breast rehabilitation products including breast molds, special
brassieres, breast prosthesis and special compression arm sleeves.  The hospital already has a robust
psychosocial rehabilitation program for cancer patients through different
cancer support groups that meet on campus.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">The launch took place during the second breast cancer
survivors conference organized by the hospital to debunk breast cancer myths,
after treatment complications and how they can be managed and also provide a
platform for the survivors to share their experiences. The forum brought
together a panel of oncologists from the hospital, rehabilitation therapists,
nurses, breast cancer survivors from different healthcare institutions, breast
cancer advocates and passionate people about breast cancer.</span></p><span style="font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">

</span><span style="line-height: 115%; font-family: helvetica; font-size: 14.6667px;">Over 140 breast cancer survivors attended the
event which provided an opportunity for interaction and free consultation with
hospital doctors, nurses and rehabilitation therapists on issues related to the

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