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Fear of recurrence most common concern for breast cancer survivors

<div><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><img src="/nairobi/PublishingImages/Cancer%20awareness%20day%202018%20body.jpg" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/></span> </div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><em><strong>Caption: </strong>Professor Ronald Wasike, Consultant General and Breast Surgeon at Aga Khan University Hospital, Mercy Ndii (left) and Mercy Otenga (right), both participants at the Cancer Awareness Open Day review a cancer information brochure. Over 100 participants attended the event to mark World Cancer Day 2018 at the Hospital.</em></span></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><em></em></span><span style="font-family: helvetica;">

Cancer patients consider survivorship the most significant achievement in their lives, but fear of recurrence is the most common concern for cancer survivors. This was evident at a cancer awareness open day organised by Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) to mark World Cancer Day 2018 themed ‘We Can. I Can’. </span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">During his presentation, Professor Ronald Wasike, Consultant General and Breast Surgeon at the hospital explained that despite these fears, only about five to ten percent of women with stage 1 or 2 breast cancer would have a recurrence after the initial treatment. This means cancer may return to the same breast, chest wall, or axillary lymph nodes. </span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Fear of recurrence, dealing with residual side effects of treatment and the need for a survivor to adjust to the usual self, makes up ‘post-treatment syndrome’, a condition that results from patients developing comfort with doctors and nurses, and entrusting them with their health. Professor Wasike advised that breast cancer survivors should be on the lookout for any new lumps in the breast or scar, any ache or pain that is new and remains constant lasting for three weeks or more and most importantly seek regular medical follow-up for early detection of recurrence or a second Cancer. They should also take charge of their lives by living a healthy lifestyle as advised by doctors.</span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Other specific concerns expressed by the survivors include; lymphedema, a condition which rarely occurs after the axillary lymph nodes are removed or radiated as part of treatment for breast cancer and usually managed with physiotherapy; sex and sexuality; fertility after breast cancer and post-menopause hormonal therapy. Breast cancer survivors were advised to consult their doctors on these concerns following treatment completion. </span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">This year’s world cancer day theme focused on how everyone, collectively or individually can contribute to reduce the global burden of cancer and alleviate patient suffering. The event held at Aga Khan University Hospital brought together cancer specialists and over 100 cancer patients and their families, cancer survivors, and people passionate about cancer. Deliberations included the toll cancer takes on families and the country at large. Other activities leading to the world cancer day celebrations included cervical cancer screening of over 80 women by the hospital in support of a collaboration between Treatment, Research and Expert Education (TREE), Othaya Farmer’s Cooperative Society and Atlas Coffee Company (USA) in Nyeri County last week. </span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Aga Khan University Hospital has acquired an ultra-modern Positron Emission Tomography (PET) CT scanner, and Cyclotron, a first in East and Central Africa and construction is underway to house the technology. </span></div><div><br style="font-family: helvetica;"/></div><div><span style="font-family: helvetica;">“Information generated from PET CT scans will enable oncologists to make better treatment and follow up plans for cancer patients. In certain cancer situations, this information is critical in making decisions regarding treatment options including surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy,” explained Dr Asim Jamal, Section Head Medical Oncology at AKUH.</span></div>

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