NEWS AND EVENTS

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08/Oct/2019

7 WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF BREAST CANCER

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is an abnormal growth of malignant cells (cancer cells) in the breast. It can occur in both men and women, but it’s far more common in women impacting over 2.1 million women each year.

In order to improve breast cancer outcomes and survival, early detection is critical. There are two early detection strategies for breast cancer: early diagnosis and screening.

 

How is it diagnosed?

Early diagnosis strategies focus on providing timely access to cancer treatment by reducing barriers to care and/or improving access to effective diagnosis services.

Screening consists of testing women to identify cancers before any symptoms appear. Breast cancer screening tools include:

  1. Mammography-is the process of using low-energy x-rays to examine the human breast for
    A mammogram image of a breast with cancer

    diagnosis and screening. Helps in early detection of breast cancer.

2. Clinical breast exam-it’s done by the healthcare provider. The provider visually checks your breasts while you are sitting up and physically examine your breast while you are lying down.

3. Breast self –exam-it involves checking your breasts for lumps or changes.

What are early warning signs of breast cancer?

Symptoms of breast tumors vary from person to person. Some common, early warning signs of breast cancer include:

  • Skin changes, such as swelling, redness, or other visible differences in one or both breasts
  • An increase in size or change in shape of the breast(s)
  • Breast Pain image

    Changes in the appearance of one or both nipples

  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • General pain in/on any part of the breast
  • Lumps or nodes felt on or inside of the breast.

 

 

How does breast cancer develop?

Breast cancer occurs when some breast cells begin to grow abnormally. These cells divide more rapidly than healthy cells do and continue to accumulate, forming a lump or mass. Cells may spread (metastasize) through your breast to your lymph nodes or blood to other parts of your body.

 

What factors are associated with increased risk of breast cancer?

  • Family history of breast cancer-if you have a 1st degree relative who has had breast cancer you could be at a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
  • Personal history of breast cancer-if you have already been diagnosed with your risk of developing it again on the same or the other breast is higher.
  • Gender-women are more at risk of developing breast cancer than men.
  • Age-chances of getting breast cancer increases with age.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding-women who have not had or had a full-term pregnancy after the age 30 have an increased risk of breast cancer. Women who have children breastfeeding may slightly lower their breast cancer risk
  • Obesity-being overweight is associated with increased risk of breast cancer because the extra fat cells makes estrogen which can cause extra breast cell growth. This extra cell growth increases the risk of breast cancer.
  • hormone replacement therapy drugs
  • Postmenopausal hormone therapy-women who take hormonal therapy combined with estrogen and progesterone to treat signs and symptoms of menopause have an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Alcohol consumption-alcohol can limit your livers ability to control blood levels of hormone estrogen which in turn increases risk of breast cancer.
  • Menstrual history – women who started menstruating (having periods) younger than 12 years have a higher risk of breast cancer. Same is true for women who through menopause when they are older than 55 years.
  • Smoking cigarettes -it’s linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in younger and premenopausal women.

 

 How can we reduce your risk of breast cancer?

  1. Exercise –inactivity can raise breast cancer risk. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.
  2. Limit postmenopausal hormone therapy– To reduce the risk of breast cancer, use the lowest dose of hormone therapy possible for the shortest amount of time. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of hormone therapy.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight-if you need to lose weight, ask your doctors about healthy strategies to accomplish this. Healthy weight helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
  4. Limit alcohol intake –drink alcohol in moderation; limit the amount of alcohol intake to no more than 3 to 4 drinks per week, if you choose to drink.
  5. Choose a healthy diet– it’s best to eat a highly plant dominated diet such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Choose healthy fats such as olive oil, over butter and fish instead of red meat. Avoid processed food.
  6. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding-Studies have shown that breastfeeding, especially for more than 18 months can reduce breast cancer risk.
  7. Breast self-exam making changes in your daily life help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Ask your doctor about breast cancer screening and when to begin. If there is a new change, lump or other unusual signs in your breast, talk to your doctor promptly

 

Breast awareness can’t prevent breast cancer, but it may help you to better understand the normal changes that your breasts undergo and identify any unusual signs and symptoms.

References

  1. Medical-surgical nursing textbook by Brunner and Suddarth 12th edition.
  2. WHO. Https://www.who.int>preventionbreastcancer-who.
  3. Mayo clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org

 

Author:

Veronica Wanja – Nursing Officer


16/Jul/2019

WHAT IS HEPATITIS A?

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. It can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. Although rare, hepatitis A can cause death in some people.

HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?

Hepatitis  A can be got from contaminated food or water or from close contact with a person or object that’s infected including sexual encounters. It does not spread through sneezing or coughing.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

  • Fatigue
  • Sudden nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially on the upper right side beneath your lower ribs (by your liver)
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Dark urine
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  • Intense itching

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS?

You’re at increased risk of hepatitis A if you:

  • Travel or work in areas of the world where hepatitis A is common
  • Attend childcare or work in a childcare center
  • Live with another person who has hepatitis A
  • Have any type of sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A
  • Are HIV positive
  • Have a clotting-factor disorder, such as hemophilia
  • Use any type of illegal drugs (not just those that are injected)

HOW IS HEPATITIS A DIAGNOSED?

  • Through a blood screening test
  • The test cost the average rage of Kes.  1,500-4,500
  • The tests are available at trusted labs and hospital. You can follow this link for an offer at Imara Mediplus Hospital for a discounted test.  https://www.imaramed.org/

If I have had hepatitis A in the past, can I get it again?

  • Once you recover from hepatitis A, you develop antibodies that protect you from the virus for life. (An antibody is a substance found in the blood that the body produces in response to a virus. They protect the body from disease by attaching to the virus and destroying it.)

How soon after exposure to hepatitis A will symptoms appear?

  • If symptoms occur, they usually start appearing 4 weeks after exposure, but can occur as early as 2 and as late as 7 weeks after exposure. Symptoms usually develop over a period of several days.

 

How long do hepatitis A symptoms last?

  • Symptoms usually last less than 2 months, although some people (10%–15%) with hepatitis A can have symptoms for as long as 6 months.

 

Can a person spread hepatitis A without having symptoms?

  • Many people, especially children, have no symptoms. In addition, a person can transmit the virus to others up to 2 weeks before symptoms appear.

 

How is hepatitis A treated?

  • Un-vaccinated people who have been exposed recently (within 2 weeks) to the hepatitis A virus should get the hepatitis A vaccine or a shot of immune globulin to prevent severe illness. To treat the symptoms of hepatitis A, doctors usually recommend rest, adequate nutrition, and fluids. Some people will need medical care in a hospital. It can take a few months before people with hepatitis A begin to feel better.

HOW CAN IT BE PREVENTED

  • Vaccinations
  • Practice hygiene eg. Proper hand hygiene after using the bathroom, using clean uncontaminated water for drinking or cooking

 

Reference:

  1. Division of Viral Hepatitis, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
  2. Lai M. Hepatitis A virus infection in adults: An overview. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Aug. 8, 2017.

06/Oct/2018

Pap smear procedure
  1. WHAT IS PAP SMEAR?

It is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women that involves collecting cells from the cervix, the lower, narrow end of the uterus.

  1. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

It helps in early detection of cervical cancer, hence improving chances of cure.

A Pap smear also detects changes in the cervical cells that suggest cancer may develop in the future. Detecting these abnormal cells early with a Pap smear is the first step in halting the possible development of cervical cancer.

  1. WHY IS IT DONE?

To screen for cervical cancer.

The test is usually done in conjunction with a pelvic exam. In women older than age 30, the Pap test may be combined with a test for human papillomavirus (HPV) — a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer. In some cases, the HPV test may be done instead of a Pap smear.

 

  1. WHO SHOULD DO A PAP SMEAR?

Any female above 21 years.

  1. HOW OFTEN SHOULD IT BE REPEATED?

Once every year. If combined with HPV test, the repeat can take even 5 years. However, depending on certain conditions, it can be repeated severally, of course with the doctor’s advice. These conditions include;

1.A diagnosis of cervical cancer or a Pap smear that showed precancerous cells

2.Exposure to some hormones eg. diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth

3.HIV infection

4.Weakened immune system due to organ transplant, chemotherapy or chronic corticosteroid use

5.A history of smoking

6. WHEN SHOULD YOU STOP DOING THE TEST?

  1. After an hysterectomy (complete removal of the uterus and cervix)
  2. Old age i.e. 65 years and above.

AUTHOR:

Sally Gakii, Lab Superintendent, Imara Mediplus Hospital

Date posted: 6/10/18

 

REFERENCES:

  1. Smith RA, et al. Cancer screening in the United States, 2017: A review of current American Cancer Society guidelines and current issues in cancer screening. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2017;67:100.
  2. Curry SJ, et al. Screening for cervical cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2018;320:674.

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