For the battle against breast cancer to be won in Africa, oncologists and radiologists must create avenues for patients to be thoroughly informed about their condition and care plan, as this will position them for better treatment outcomes.
This was disclosed by Dr Joel Yarney, director, National Centre for Radiotherapy Oncology & Nuclear Medicine, Korle-bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, Ghana.
Yarney, who made the remarks at the recent Pfizer’s virtual Media Roundtable in commemoration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, held annually in November, said it is the obligation of cancer experts to promote a healthy dialogue between patients and their healthcare teams. This, he said, will enhance their understanding of the condition as well as empower them to participate in their own care.
According to the cancer specialist, “The transformative impact of science on breast cancer is evident within the breast cancer community. While we’ve made meaningful changes for those living with this disease, our work is far from finished. It is crucial for patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer or even metastatic breast cancer to have the right information and expectations.
“It is our duty to encourage patients to have open conversations with their healthcare teams to understand how they can be supported and how they can participate in their own care. Taking an active role in their treatment can help them feel empowered in making the best decisions for themselves”.
Also present at the programme was Consultant Clinical and Radiation Oncologist, NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria, Dr Adewumi Alabi, who emphasised the need for clinical research funding in breast cancer.
Alabi, who highlighted the various challenges encountered by practitioners and patients due to poor funding, also explained restraints faced by practitioners in administering donated cancer drugs to patients because they have not been clinically tested and proven safe for Nigerians.
She listed other factors limiting optimal cancer care in the country to include inadequate infrastructure, shortage of specialists, inadequate awareness creation, late diagnosis, poor diet, global warming and climate change.
Speaking on the significance of the gathering, the consultant oncologist said, “The importance of clinical research in breast cancer care cannot be overemphasized. These forums are critical as they allow us to share our best insights and findings that can support patients in winning the battle against cancer. Breast cancer itself is one of the deadliest diseases with a high prevalence in the area.
“On a positive note, we now have evidence-based updates and real-world data, showing the efficacy of prescriptions in the management of HR+ HER2- mBC patients.”
Fielding questions from journalists at the event, Medical Director, East & Anglo West Africa, Pfizer, Kodjo Soroh, dispelled the notion that using microwave oven causes breast cancer, stating that the device does not have enough energy to cause breast cancer or any other cancer.
Soroh further emphasised the need for early detection of breast cancer, noting that patients with early presentation have a better chance of survival than those with late diagnosis.
In his words, “Microwave cannot cause cancer because it does not have enough energy to distract the DNA. While clinical examination is okay for those that cannot afford mammography, it is recommended for premenopausal women to have annual examination, and post-menopausal women are advised to have breast examination twice yearly.
“Oncology remains a key therapeutic field for Pfizer in which we are working to deliver medical breakthroughs that have the potential to change patients’ lives across the region significantly and we are proud of these achievements.”