Every year, around October, students from Unam’s School of Allied Health organise awareness activities to educate the public about breast cancer.
A practice group of radiography students took charge this year. The cohort, ranging from second to final-year students, conducted breast cancer awareness outreach in the Katutura intermediate area and Windhoek Central Hospital.
During the exercise, they distributed educational fliers and educated the public on the premise of breast cancer.
This year’s outreach, according to fourth-year radiography student Maria Vatileni, was inspired by radiography students’ personal experiences with breast cancer patients.
“As radiography students, we often screen patients for breast cancer – and as a result, we are exposed to many patients who find out about their status at an advanced stage, which is mainly because of the information they have at the time,” disclosed Vatileni.
According to the World Health Organisation, each year, 8.8 million people die from cancer – mostly in low- and middle-income countries – a problem that is largely attributed to delayed diagnosis due to a lack of information.
“Even though everyone is aware of breast cancer, many don’t understand the details surrounding it,” said second-year student, Klarike Els. Breast cancer has many symptoms and reasons it develops that many people, including hospital staff, are unaware of.
“Most people think breast cancer sensitisation should only happen towards patients, but a lot of hospital staff are not aware of the dangers of detecting breast or cervical cancer at an advanced stage,” emphasised Els.
“We distributed breast cancer information fliers around the hospital and explained to patients, hospital staff and the general public the dangers of breast cancer – and that early detection is always better, especially with cancer, which is unpredictable and dangerous,” she emphasised.
Vatileni also pointed out that people tend to think more of the cost when it comes to health-related issues. They think of the cost of getting tested, the treatment and being hospitalised – a concern that is quite common, but should not be the reason to delay breast cancer screening.
For more information on breast cancer or any other cancer, contact the Cancer Association of Namibia on www.can.org.na or 061 237 740.