Breast cancer awareness month: understanding the basics of breast cancer

October is a profound month in the medical world. It’s tagged the Breast cancer awareness month. It’s normally a period to take stock and reflect on the fight against breast cancer in the world.
If you have lost a dear one, the feeling, the agony is tormenting. Seemingly if you have seen some you know suffer this ailment, you can relate.
In Kenya, breast cancer is normally associated with women compared to the male folk.

What is breast cancer?
It’s a malignant tumour that grows in one or both of the breasts. It develops in the ducts or lubes (the milk producing areas of the breast)

Why do women develop breast cancer more often?
The hormone in a woman’s body that is estrogen and progesterone increases the development.
Estrogen triggers cancer cells to double. Interestingly, estrogen can cause the breast cancer cells to double every 36 hours. Progestron triggers the cells known as stromal cells to send signals for more blood supply which leads to feeding of the tumour.

Are breast cancers the same?
There exist different stages based on the size of the tumour and whether the cancer has spread. It’s important for doctor and patient to know the stage of the cancer as it helps in making treatment options

How can I identify breast cancer, what can I look for?
The most common sign would be a lump, abnormal thickening of the breast, and change in colour or shape of the breast.

Other signs
• Dimpling or puckering of the skin
• Swelling, redness or warmth that does not go away
• Nipple discharge that starts and appears only on one breast

What’s the situation in Kenya?
In 2012, Kenya established a National Cancer and Prevention and Control Act making it one of the few countries with legislation for cancer. This development means the Ministry of Health called for revenue allocation for cancer control in the government budget which we need to keenly participate in now that budget making is devolved into counties.
The country has a faulty national health insurance plan which hinders timely access to medical care compounded by apathy and lack of access to accurate information making screening rare and cancers undetectable.
Myths exist with belief cancers are curse from the ancestors and elders

What is the treatment for breast cancer?
Patients with breast cancer have many treatment options. Most treatments are adjusted specifically to the type of cancer and the staging group. Treatment options should be discussed with your health-care team. Below you will find the basic treatment modalities used in the treatment of breast cancer.

Most women with breast cancer will require surgery. Broadly, the surgical therapies for breast cancer can be divided into breast conserving surgery and mastectomy.

Breast-conserving surgery
This surgery will only remove part of the breast (sometimes referred to as partial mastectomy). The extent of the surgery is determined by the size and location of the tumor.
In a lumpectomy, only the breast lump and some surrounding tissue is removed. The surrounding tissue (margins) are inspected for cancer cells. If no cancer cells are found, this is called “negative” or “clear margins.” Frequently, radiation therapy is given after lumpectomies.

During a mastectomy (sometimes also referred to as a simple mastectomy), all the breast tissue is removed. If immediate reconstruction is considered, a skin-sparing mastectomy is sometimes performed. In this surgery, all the breast tissue is removed as well but the overlying skin is preserved.

Radical mastectomy
During this surgery, the surgeon removes the axillary lymph nodes as well as the chest wall muscle in addition to the breast. This procedure is done much less frequently than in the past, as in most cases a modified radical mastectomy is as effective.

Modified radical mastectomy
This surgery removes the axillary lymph nodes in addition to the breast tissue.
Depending on the stage of the cancer, your health-care team might give you a choice between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy. Lumpectomy allows sparing of the breast but usually requires radiation therapy afterward. If lumpectomy is indicated, long-term follow-up shows no advantage of a mastectomy over the lumpectomy.

Knowing breast cancer exists is not enough so get informed and pass the information on.

Additional information sourced from

World Contraception Day in Homa Bay County.


KMET through the Homa Bay family planning advocacy project joined in celebrating this year’s World Contraception Day. The project is supporting the Homa Bay county government develop and approve a five year family planning strategy especially for four of the most needy sub counties. The sub counties are Ndhiwa, Mbita, Homa Bay and Suba. Homa bay county health minister Dr Lawrence Koteng who was the chief guest encouraged providers and the partners to continue the fight to improve maternal indicators in the county. He underscored the need to have planned pregnancies pointing out the use of contraceptive would help in child spacing and timing. The Homa Bay family planning advocacy project is supported by Population Action International (PAI) who were vital in providing support towards organising this year’s event.

KMET Huduma Poa speech on World Contraception Day in Siaya County

Speech as delivered by Amos Onderi- Program Coordinator | APHIAplus Health Communication and Marketing | KMET on 26 September 2014

Chief of Health, Dr. Midiwo, County Nursing Officer, Other Members of CHMT present, DMOH Ugunja, Members of different SCHMT present here today, Stakeholders, CHWs, Ladies and gentlemen good afternoon.

Today we are seated here for a very important reason.

  • To demonstrate a commitment as stakeholders that we are obliged to ensuring that our women and men are able to choose whether, when and how many children they desire to have.
  • To encourage and emphasize to our men and women that they have an opportunity to decide freely, and for themselves, whether, when and how many children they will have.

It’s absolutely fundamental that way!

We all worry about the population explosion, but we don't worry about it at the right time. It is not economical to go to bed early to save the candles if the result is twins. (Chinese Proverb)

Just like anybody else, it pains me deeply to see women and men who cannot jointly decide on when and how many children they desire to have. This day today should change that trend of unfortunate attitude.

To our healthcare providers, ‘By not providing adequate information to enable our men and women to choose when to have children is a violation of their human rights.

Providing demand and access to family planning is about social justice. It is about upholding the rights of women and men to make right choices. It is about empowering women to take control of their own lives.

Siaya County you are lucky: - We have just concluded appraising the draft FP Strategy few months ago. I am optimistic, this will be a real opportunity to turn things around including an improved budgetary provision for integrated RH Services for better Health. Huduma Poa uses a theatre group to pass reproductive health messages

I am glad CHW workers are committed to reaching women with vital reproductive health and family planning information. This Team of colleagues form a critical resource in health care. To CHWs seated here, Congratulations. I particularly take the opportunity to recognize Huduma Poa CHWs and strides they have made in this journey in Siaya County.

As a result, we have seen an unprecedented upsurge of contraceptive services in most areas of the Sub-counties within this county. The broader range of free modern contraceptive options we offer has also been key to fuelling demand.

It is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.


As an organization (KMET) we are determined to close the family planning gap and accelerate our efforts on maternal and child survival and health. We shall continue to participate in related activities once called upon.

This is why we are here today: It’s your life; it’s your future; know your contraceptive options.’



Championing Maternal Health in Homa Bay County: KMET Holds Post Abortion Care training for Providers

Championing maternal health in Homa Bay County: KMET Holds Post Abortion Care training for Providers

Homa Bay county minister for health, Dr Lawrence Koten’g has lauded KMET’s efforts in fighting maternal deaths in the county following a Post Abortion Care (PAC) training organized by KMET in the region.

“KMET as a partner has been doing well in addressing maternal deaths through initiatives such as this PAC training which will go a long way in updating skills of our healthcare providers,” he said during the closing ceremony of the five day training held at Star ridge Hotel.

The training sought to enhance the capacity of public health workers drawn from 4 subcounties in Homa Bay County in the provision of quality abortion-related services within the confines of the Kenyan law.

Dr. Carey Francis Otula demonstrates how to assemble an MVA kitEach facility was awarded two manual vacuum aspirator (MVA) machines which are widely used in therapeutic procedures to remove uterine contents through the cervix after a miscarriage or incidence of botched abortions.

Speaking earlier during the opening session, the Executive Director, KMET, Monica Oguttu narrated how unsafe abortion has led to the death of many women. She said during her career as a practitioner she witnessed many mothers die from what’s commonly referred as the Big Five Maternal Killers unsafe being amongst them.

Unsafe abortion is life threatening to any woman and the knowledge gap should be bridged to reach out to women to save their lives” she said.

Adding that medical facilities should offer PAC services and the need to engage policy makers to make changes as regards access to such services citing sections of the constitution such as Article 8(25) The Bill of Rights; which underlines the right to healthcare and reproductive health and international conventions like the Maputo protocol.

During a roundtable discussion during the training, it emerged that stigma on abortion was still rife with women continuously being stereotyped hence impacting negatively on utilization of services such as post abortion care.

“I thank KMET for this training, I now know the difference between safe and unsafe abortion and the provision of post abortion care services as outlined by the law” summarized Aliche one of the participants from Homa Bay Sub county hospital.