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Cancer kills more women than men in Kenya: WHO

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More Kenyan women will die from cancer than men, the World Health Organisation’s research agency says.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer’s Globocan 2018 data shows that the disease will claim 18,772 women compared to 14,215 men yearly.

Doctors link the high death rates to late diagnosis, shame in seeking treatment, low income and fear of being found that

Dr Sitna Mwanzi, the chair of Kenya Society of Hematology and Oncology and an oncologist at Aga Khan University Hospital, said more women are also going for screening than men but late after the cancer has advanced.

“Most women are not breadwinners and their husbands control the finances, so they may be sick but not have money to go to hospital early. These cancers also affect private parts and most women are still shy to seek treatment,’’ she said.

Women also lead in new cancer cases with 28,688 getting the disease compared to 19,199 men, representing 56 per cent of the total new cases.

In the next five years, the Globocan data shows, Kenyan women will continue bearing the brunt as cancer rates are set to rise twice faster than in men.

The top killer among women remains breast, followed by cervix/uterine and oesophagus cancers.

Some of the stigma stems from the fact that cervical cancer cases, which have risen to 5,250 every year, are sexually transmitted.

“Cervical cancer is seen as a disease for promiscuous women. In the villages, very few people know about it and people don’t talk about it,’’ said Irene Kung’u, a 52-year-old who was diagnosed with cervical cancer at stage 2b.

Women also fear seeking treatment because of claims that their diagnosis is a result of contraceptives use and delayed childbirth.

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