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Men from Central Kenya shy off from cancer screening

By Lydiah Nyawira | June 17th 2015

During a cancer screening outreach sponsored by the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church, Physician Fatuma Chelimo said many men from the region tend to shy away from screening.

"In order to screen for prostate cancer we perform a digital (finger) rectal examination, which is done to check for abnormalities of organs or other structures in the pelvis and lower abdomen," Dr Chelimo said.

She said due to the cultural and the slight discomfort experienced by the patient, some men shy away from the screening, which prevents the disease from being diagnosed early.

Chelimo works with E-med Africa Initiative, a mentorship programme for medical students that focuses on planning and carrying out medical camps across the country.

"The top three types of cancers that have been diagnosed in the country are prostate, cervical and breast cancer and one of the challenges is that almost 80 per cent of the people attending medical camps are women," she Chelimo said.

She said early diagnosis of the disease was key to treating it, and that its screening was crucial in ensuring timely intervention.

"The digital (finger) rectal examination is conducted by a professional and, therefore, the patient has no reason to fear the test, which is a necessary medical procedure," she told the locals.

The medic said failure to consistently take medication was a contributing factor that complicates the disease's treatment.

"Medication such as for high blood pressure is very important and patients should not skip their dosages. Failure to complete dosages has been one of the problems we have observed during our medical camp visits," Chelimo noted.

Mt Kenya region SDA Co-ordinator Stanley Muchoki said churches are some of the avenues through which men could be mobilised to embrace cancer screening.

"Our churches have Men Associations, which we can use as church leaders to give the necessary information and pressure to men to enable them take prostate cancer screening seriously," he said.

One of the beneficiaries of the prostate examination, Evan Kibara, 62, agreed that the screening process was uncomfortable but worth it.

"I was worried when the doctor explained what she would do to me. But after the examination, I ham glad to state that I have a clean bill of health," he said.

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