The 2018 Breast cancer Awareness and Screening Program in Africa (BCASPA) dinner, dance and fundraiser held recently at the Arthur’s lounge in Addison, Texas. BCASPA, an aid for Victims of Diseases in Africa (AVODA) initiative, is a registered charity organization in Texas which provides FREE mammograms annually to hundreds of women in Africa. The event convener, Adebola Olatunji MD MRCP (UK), presented an analysis of the high mortality rate of women in Africa caused by breast cancer, which could be far less if most had access to affordable early detection facilities and mammograms.
2018 ANNUAL BCASPA DINNER AND DANCE
As we all know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and we members of AVODA are getting ready for another year of Breast Cancer Education and delivery of Free Mammography to several qualified women in Africa.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, with nearly 1.7 million new cases diagnosed in 2012, representing approximately 12% of all new cancer cases and 25% of all cancers in women. (3) In 2012, the global burden of cancer deaths was an estimated 8.2 million, with at least 65% of cancer deaths occurring in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). (21) Global statistics shows that the annual incidence of breast cancer is increasing, and this is occurring more rapidly in countries with a low incidence rate of breast cancer [4–5].
WHO IS AVODA
AID FOR VICTIMS OF DISEASES IN AFRICA, established in 2015. BCASPA is one of our programs
Several leading authorities have concluded that African women may be an endangered species considering the challenges they face on a day to day issue namely lack access to proper healthcare, poverty, domestic abuse, rape or murder.
At the closing of the International Congress on Women Health Issues, the “Anthony Hopkins Report” concluded that 1 in every 3 black women has been beaten, coerced into sex, raped or otherwise abused or even murdered.
Beyond screening for breast cancer and providing avenues to get treatment for new cases of breast cancer discovered under the BCASPA program, AVODA also strives to change the overall mindset of women through empowerment and improvement in their overall self-esteem.
Women with preserved self-esteem and confidence are more likely to pay attention to their health and wellbeing and thus participate in screening exercises which typically are tests done on otherwise healthy individuals.
AVODA does not own any equipment’s. We reach out to the target population through social media, radio and TV advertisements. We educate women in the target population on the benefits of screening and early detection. We teach them on self-breast examination and warning symptoms of early breast cancer.
We also reach out to local religious leaders in churches and mosques who in turn reach out to their congregation and encourage them to participate in the screening. More often than not, these religious leaders are usually the first to know when women in their congregation have new symptoms like a breast lump. We also ensure that many of these religious leaders are well educated on the need to point such members of their congregation in the right direction if and when they are notified of their symptoms.
- FREE SCREENING
Registration for the free screening mammogram takes place year-round under our BCASPA program. Registration forms are available online at BCASPA.ORG and we also make paper registration forms available to women which are strategically placed in centers like churches, mosques and Teaching Hospitals. Screening is done on a first come first served basis at designated facilities who have partnered with AVODA and at a negotiated rate. The average cost of mammogram to AVODA per individual is #5000 ($12) which is a fraction of what the facility charges.
Currently AVODA has partnered with three Diagnostic Center that offer Screening Mammogram in Lagos namely MECURE, AFRIGLOBAL MEDICARE and ARRIVE ALIVE DIAGNOSTICS.
We also partnered with Genesis Specialist Hospital where we refer all patients with abnormal results needing further testing in form of biopsy or surgery in form of mastectomy.
A copy of all the results and images are provided to AVODA and results are also provided to the participants within 3 days of having the procedure.
All abnormal results are immediately communicated to AVODA staff and the patients and such individual are immediately scheduled for additional testing where indicated.
Typically, AVODA pays for screening mammograms throughout the month of October every year and then the last Thursday of every month in subsequent months.
AVODA successfully paid for 750 mammograms in in 2017.
We identified 14 abnormal results and 4 new cases of Breast cancer.
We registered 2446 women in total who are waiting to be screening and got more women aware of the benefits of early detection.
We reached out to 46000 women on social media through our advertisements educating them on the benefits of early detection through SELF BREAST EXAMINATION, CLINICAL BREAST EXAMINATION and SCREENING MAMMOGRAPHY for eligible individuals.
2018 we have signed up Ogun State University Teaching Hospital (my Alma Mata) and expanded our services to additional territory.
Breast Cancer remains a social stigma in many parts of Africa and many women prefer not to know if they have cancer.
Many still believe it’s an act of the enemy and rather seek the help of pastors and imams rather than seek medical help.
5 of the women with abnormal mammography refused additional studies due to fear of needing a mastectomy. Some feared their husband will reject them.
Limited financial resources available to most beneficiaries to proceed to the next line of treatment.
AVODA receives an overwhelming number of request to help with established cases of breast cancer who otherwise have no resources to proceed with treatment. Most of these individuals have advanced disease.
AVODA is hopeful we can do more in the future as the number of new cases continue to increase.
Beyond screening, we hope we can pay for additional testing where indicated like biopsies, immunochemistry to determine receptor status, provide selective estrogen receptor modulators at no cost to qualified individuals (tamoxifen) and possibly mastectomy for qualified candidates.
I consider myself to be one of the few privileged ones who was afforded the opportunity to come to America and see how things are done. Beyond that, I have been blessed with great family and friends like everyone here today who have come to support our cause. I have decided to take advantage of these blessing s make a difference in the lives of others.
Like I always say, “success is not defined by the size of your House, the car you drive or the amount of money in your bank account, but it’s a measure of how many lives you positively impact.
I know ” we” alone cannot save the world but let it be known to all men, that we will not give up this fight against this killer disease that continues to plague humanity…. especially the most vulnerable.
ADEBOLA OLATUNJI. MD, MRCP UK.
BOARD CERTIFIED INTERNAL MEDICINE.
FOUNDER, AVODA INITIATIVE