Bone pain, shortness of breath may be suggestive of breast cancer

A lump in the breast is typically associated with breast cancer, but an expert in breast cancer, Professor Charles Adisa, has said that bone pain, confusion and shortness of breath may be signs suggestive of an advanced form of breast cancer.

Adisa, a breast cancer expert at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Abia spoke at the Ibadan Medical Specialist Group symposium with the theme “Cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Speaking through Dr Temidayo Ogundiran, the expert stated that breast cancer was the commonest cancer now diagnosed in women in many hospitals, adding that its incidence was on the rise in Africa.

Adisa, who remarked that the incidence of breast cancer had overtaken cervical cancer in Nigeria, lamented that many breast cancer cases were still discovered at their advanced stages.

He decried that breast cancer, which now represents one in every four cancers in women, is a leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the greatest death in South Africa, followed by West Africa.

The expert, who remarked that breast cancer occurs in younger age groups in black people and runs a more aggressive course compared with the whites, stated that repeated exposure to oestrogen could sometimes stimulate breast cancer cells and cause them to grow.

According to him, things that expose to oestrogen over a longer period of time includes early onset of puberty, later menopause, low number of children and hormonal contraceptives.

Adisa, therefore, urged increased international collaboration to prevent breast cancer in Africa, interventions that ensure early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

Dr Adebanji Adeyanju, a consultant urologist at Stepping Hill Hospital, United Kingdom, stated also that prostate cancer cases among men were also on the rise.

The increasing cases of prostate cancer, which he linked to increased awareness and prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing in men, he described as an important problem.

According to him, “In Nigeria, it is an important problem. It will become more important as the social, economic and life expectancy of Nigerian men continue to improve.”

Adeyanju stated that only few cases of prostate cancer ended up being discovered in Nigeria, unlike breast and cervical cancer that had screen programmes in place for them.

He added that lack of awareness on prostate cancer and low number of trained urologists were challenges against early detection of the cancer, urging quick intervention to tackle these challenges.

Professor Odunayo Oluwatosin, a consultant plastic surgeon, however, stressed the need for reconstructive surgery in the management of cancer in sub-Saharan Africa, saying that reconstructive surgery extends the ability to provide better prognosis and improve survival and quality of life of persons suffering from cancer.

President, Ibadan Medical Specialist Group, Dr Lanre Ogunyemi, earlier described the symposium and many donations to the college as part of its efforts to support the college, adding, “We hope that our commitment and presence would inspire the students in the college.”

Also, President, Ibadan College of Medicine Alumni Association (ICOMAA), Worldwide, Dr Abib Olamitoye, who described the alumni as tender hearted and truly altruistic, said the college needed more than ever, the support of its alumni given the current economic situation in Nigeria.