bLACK BREAST CANCER IN AFRICA

AFRICA

All over the world, women of African heritage are getting a bad deal for many health conditions, including breast cancer. Why this is happening seems to depend upon,

 

  1. What you believe causes breast cancer, and
  2. The available treatments to remedy it.

 

As a non-medical African woman born in the UK of Jamaican parentage, I suspect all diseases are located in trauma. That’s trauma to the mind, body and to nature itself.

The earth doesn’t like the way we pollute the world and our bodies. The earth is getting stressed, and so are our minds and bodies. Our breasts feed life, so it’s no wonder breast cancer is showing up as the leading cancer for African women.

 

 

Some arguments suggest that ‘all’ cancers start from the breast though that remains scientifically unconfirmed.

 

 

We know that neglect and the exploitation of people lie heavily in Africa. We surely cannot separate poor living conditions, poor nutrition, poor education and poor quality of life with the disproportionate number of deaths for breast cancer among African women.

 

 

Many studies explain African breast cancer death rates, at least in part, due to our genetic structure, arguing that some of our genes make us more susceptible to these tumors. This is something we have to think about more critically. 

 

 

I accept this is highly simplistic, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) and many other studies confirm Africa has a much lower incidence of breast cancer than white women in Western Europe and North America, where the incidence of breast cancer is the highest in the world.

 

Yet, death rates for the same disease are almost twice as high in Africa (and the Caribbean), than in those two regions.

 

 

WE GET IT LESS BUT DIE MORE

               

                WHY?

    • Either our genes cause aggressive breast cancers (so it’s inside of us).

         

                OR,

    • It’s poverty plus poor access to medical treatments (so it’s outside of us).

 

I’m not saying it can’t be both, but the significant difference between Africa, North America and Western Europe is ECONOMIC WEALTH, not the differences between our biological or genetic structures.   

That’s to say, African breast cancer largely increases due to the conditions going on outside of the body, such as the quality of life, and less the other way around.

 

 

AFRICANS ARE DYING MUCH FASTER OF BREAST CANCER BECAUSE OF POVERTY.

 

 

Africans are NOT dying of breast cancer because of:

 

    • A preference for witch doctors
    • Herbal Medicines
    • A refusal to get help
    • Religious belief or,
    • Superstition

 

These factors only come into play in any significant way when financial choices are restrictive and extra precautions have to be considered.

If you’re going to spend a lot of money on medical health (without insurance), the treatment better be guaranteed to work. The pressure is clearly much higher when there is almost no access to additional funds. 

Of course, this is bound to fuel levels of doubt and suspicion because these are big decisions that African women living in poverty are compelled to make.

 

This is confirmed in a 2019 study that looked at Inequities in African Breast Cancer Treatment, where they found the following,

 

 

  1. ALL women who attended a specialised Cancer Care Centre in Namibia received FREE TREATMENT regardless of race and social-economic position.
  1. However, only one in six patients at Uganda’s major referral hospital and one in three patients at two regional settings in Nigeria HAD NOT initiated any type of cancer treatment within one year of diagnosis.
  1. In Uganda and Nigeria, both countries WITHOUT universal health care coverage meant that FINANCIAL BARRIERS, ageing, HIV positivity and traditional medicine health beliefs, plus possibly being under 40 years of age, INCREASED TREATMENT GAPS.

 

African mothers with breast cancer but without public assistance may well decide to spend money on feeding their children and take herbal medicines with a prayer and hope instead. In such circumstances, I may very well do the same.

My biggest worry is that breast cancer is set to increase in Africa more than anywhere else in the world for the next 10 years.  

  1. Globally, about 25 per cent of all new cancer cases and 15 per cent of cancer deaths among females were due to breast cancer in 2020.
  2. Africa currently has the highest breast cancer mortality rate globally, with the highest incidence rates recorded ‘within’ the sub-Saharan African (SSA) sub-region.
  3. Incidence trends such as inherently aggressive tumour and younger age profiles remain controversial because of the point made above as to the possible causes for this. Genetic? Poverty? Or both
  4. Certain factors such as the western diet, urban (city living) and possibly increased awareness have been implicated, though their specific contributions are yet to be fully established. In some African heritage countries for example like Haiti, obesity does not appear to be a factor which raises questions as to the significance of an African diet.
  5. We need more research studies and more African participants in safe reliable clinical trials to gain more understanding
  6. Nigeria, the most populous African nation, has the highest breast cancer mortality rate.

 

Breast Cancer is not an infectious disease which tends to dominant the challenges in Africa such as:

 

      1. Malaria
      2. HIV/AIDS
      3. Tuberculosis
      4. Cholera
      5. Polio etc.

 

This means breast cancer has not had the same sort of priority.

  • Breast Cancer in too many African communities is a completely unnecessary death sentence. Its five-year survival rate is less than 40 per cent in SSA, compared to 86 per cent in the United States.
  • African families are left mourning and carrying this burden alone most of the time.
  • Government protections are missing – new government policies to help African women especially.
  • Following the success in developed countries, EARLY DETECTION is key to reducing mortality rates in Africa.

 

Screening for Breast Cancer demands:

      1. Urgent financial Injections
      2. Breast Screening NEEDS TO BE FREE.
      3. Technical Support
      4. Competent Radiologists
      5. Technicians
      6. Ultra-Sound Equipment – for more advanced and very small tumor diagnoses (as distinct from mammogram machines)
      7. Ultra-sound equipment can be portable, cheaper and more effective for African type tumor detection.

 

Appropriate Treatment / Medication is needed. There is no point in giving Tamoxifen medication to a woman who does not have an estrogen related breast cancer.

  • Treatment options are often limited to mastectomies lacking the complete treatment process that might include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal medication that follows afterwards to keep the cancer at bay.
  • Understandably, cutting your breasts off may seem to be a barbaric Western practice especially given it doesn’t even guarantee the non-return of breast cancer. It is no wonder so many African women hesitate to do this.
  • LEARN TO CARRY OUT SELF BREAST EXAMINATIONS – At least half of diagnosed breast cancers in the West have been found by a woman’s own self-examination.
  • Stare in the mirror and get to know the shape and look of your breasts without apology. It might feel strange at first but get used to it. Notice if one breast looks more swollen or feels hotter than the other etc.
  • Health carers need to be trained to carry out CLINICAL BREAST EXAMINATIONS.
  • If you find yourself hesitating about the possibility of you having breast cancer do check my NAKED TRUTHS page.

 

AS AFRICAN HERITAGE WOMEN, LET’S TAKE ACTION TOGETHER AND NOT WAIT FOR THE NEXT GENERATION TO STRUGGLE WITH THIS. IT’S TIME FOR US TO TACKLE IT NOW.

 

MOVIES TO WATCH:

  1. DIAMONDS IN THE SKY
  2. LAST DAYS

 

Check: Movies

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