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Zimbabweans Get Free Cancer Screening


FILE - Doctors are seen operating on a cancer patient in a hospital. (Photo - Rael Ombuor/VOA)

FILE - Doctors are seen operating on a cancer patient in a hospital. (Photo - Rael Ombuor/VOA)

The Cancer Association of Zimbabwe is offering free breast examination every day this month in an effort to save the number of women succumbing to the disease.

The free breast examination program is part of commemorations to mark the month of October, the Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Women have been flocking to the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe Centre to get screened for the deadly disease.

Speaking to Studio 7 at the centre Thursday where over 20 people were awaiting screening, the organization’s General Manager Junior Mavu said this was the first time that the centre is offering the screening daily for free.

“ … 2015 has been a different October, we have never had free breast examinations on a daily basis. The numbers are overwhelming and the uptake is really good,” said Mavu.

Mavu, however, said it was difficult to conduct the free breast examination programme in some parts of the country due to lack of resources.

“In Harare we have created a lot of awareness. The challenge is that we have not done much outside Harare areas. With funds permitting it will be a good idea but we need to do homework and a lot of considerations. When we create demand there has to be a place where the people that have been examined should go,” she said.

EARLY DETECTION

Abigail Tafirei, who told Studio 7 that she had to borrow a dollar to travel into town from Dzivarasekwa extension, said she was happy she had taken the steps to be screened.

“It is important to go for breast cancer screening because this is for free. It's expensive to go to the doctors for that and I encourage other ladies to go for screening,” said Tafirei.

Another local resident who only wanted to be identified as Sylvia from Alexandra Park told Studio 7 that a friend of hers who was saved after early detection influenced her to go for the free breast examinations at the cancer center.

She said, “The early detection saved her life and it made me realise how it is important for individuals to know their status in as far as health is concerned in every aspect including cancer which is why I am here so that I can do something about it if I have it now as opposed to waiting until my health deteriorates and I can't do much about it.”

AWARENESS

Cancer Association of Zimbabwe Information, Research and Evaluation manager, Lovemore Makurirofa, attributed the high numbers coming for screening to awareness raising, adding even young people were trooping to the centre as well.

Makurirofa said, “We are doing free breast examination and the response is overwhelming. A lot of people are coming compared to previous years. All age groups are coming and even young people are coming and the interesting thing is young ladies between 18-20 are coming. Usually we used to have women around 40, they are the ones who usually demand the service.”

Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancers in women. According to the centre, early detection of abnormalities gives the doctor a better chance to offer effective treatment. Eighty-one percent of cancer cases recorded by the National Cancer Registry in 2013 were detected at stages 3 and 4 which are considered advanced.

The United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says globally 12.7 million are diagnosed with cancer every year while 7.6 million people die from the disease annually.

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