Early detection key in fighting breast cancer – Challenging a huge threat in Zimbabwe


HARARE – Breast cancer continues to pose a significant threat to women in Zimbabwe, emphasizing the urgent need for increased awareness and early detection. 

Breast cancer awareness in Zimbabwe
There is need for more breast cancer awareness in Zimbabwe

As the world marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, voices from breast cancer survivors and startling statistics shed light on the importance of proactive measures and timely treatment.

According to the Zimbabwe Cancer Registry, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among women in the country, accounting for over 30% of all cancer cases. The disease affects women of all ages, with a higher incidence observed in those above the age of 40.

Emily Chikomba, a breast cancer survivor, shares her journey, emphasizing the significance of early detection. 

"When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was a frightening moment. However, I consider myself fortunate as the cancer was detected in its early stages. I urge all women to be proactive and prioritize their health," she says.

Delayed diagnosis remains a huge hurdle for many women in Zimbabwe. Cultural beliefs, limited access to healthcare facilities, and fear of stigmatization contribute to late detection. 

Breast cancer often goes undetected until it reaches advanced stages, making treatment more complex and reducing the chances of survival.

Jane Moyo, another breast cancer survivor, speaks about the importance of overcoming cultural barriers. 

"In our society, talking about breast cancer is still considered taboo. This silence prevents women from seeking help and receiving life-saving treatment. We need to break this cycle and encourage open discussions about breast cancer," she emphasizes.

To address these challenges, various organizations and healthcare professionals are working tirelessly to raise awareness and provide support to women across the country. 

Education campaigns, community outreach programs, and free screening initiatives have been instrumental in promoting early detection and empowering women to take charge of their health.

Dr. Tariro Makoni, an oncologist at Harare Central Hospital, stresses the significance of regular breast self-examinations and mammograms. 

"Early detection is key in improving breast cancer outcomes. Women should conduct monthly breast self-exams and seek medical attention if they notice any changes or abnormalities. 

Mammograms are also crucial for women aged 40 and above or at higher risk," she advises.

Breast cancer survivors advocate for a comprehensive approach that encompasses not only early detection but also access to quality treatment and psychosocial support.

Survivors' support groups provide a safe space for women to share their experiences, gain strength, and find solace in the company of others who have walked a similar path.

As Zimbabwe focuses on breast cancer awareness, the government, healthcare professionals, and civil society organizations are working together to improve access to screening services, diagnostic facilities, and treatment options.

However, more support and resources are needed to reach women in remote areas and vulnerable communities.

Breast cancer statistics highlight the urgency of the situation. 

The World Health Organization estimates that over 2,500 women in Zimbabwe are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and more than 1,000 lose their lives to the disease.

These numbers underscore the critical need for a comprehensive approach to breast cancer awareness and treatment.

Breast cancer is a battle that affects not only the individual but also their families and communities. 

By raising awareness, encouraging early detection, and providing support, Zimbabwe can empower women to take control of their health, reduce the impact of breast cancer, and save lives.

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