Kenya's 1st Annual International Breast Cancer Symposium

Sr Lieske recently attended the 1st Annual International Breast Cancer Symposium in Nairobi, Kenya. The following is a summary that she wrote of the 2 days that she spent there:

Lieske, Samuel and Julie
"I arrived on Wednesday evening to a green, lush and beautiful Nairobi. I travelled with Julie Belloni of Sysmex who was one of the sponsors for the symposium. Her colleague, Samuel, fetched us from the airport. He took us to have a taste of the local cuisine: pork and mukimo (a dish made from potato, maize, peas and onion).

The symposium was hosted by the Aga Khan University Hospital of Nairobi and the venue was the beautiful Trademark Hotel. The theme was "Updates in Breast Cancer Management" Both local and international speakers presented a wide variety of topics.

Day 1, session 1 started with a overview of the historical evolution of breast cancer management by Dr Miriam Mutebi, a local breast surgeon. Dr Mutebi has been involved with previous Breast Course for Nurses courses in Cape Town. Following this were lectures about the surgical and medical management of breast cancer.

Session 2 was mostly about imaging for breast cancer. The Aga Khan offers mammography, tomosynthesis, ultrasound, CT scanning and breast MRI. Stereotactic biopsy is available but there is no MRI biopsy currently available. With very few trained and qualified breast radiologists within Kenya, many of the peripheral hospitals and clinics offer ultrasound imaging but the images are sent to Aga Khan for interpretation. Session 2 ended with a presentation by Tayreez Mushani. Ms Mushani is the co-ordinator of the Oncology Diploma Program in Nairobi and she developed the curriculum for this programme, a first such programme in the East African Region. Since commencement in Aug 2016, 23 nurses have trained in oncology.

Session 3 included case presentations. Early breast cancer, Her2 heterogeneity and metastatic breast cancer cases were presented and discussed.

Lieske, Tayreez and Margaret
The day ended with 3 workshops. The members of the symposium signed up for the workshop of their interest. Track 1 was a surgical pathological workshop. Track 3 was a palliative care workshop. Track 2, which I was involved with, was an oncology nursing workshop. It started off with breast clinical examination (CBE) training by Tayreez Mushani and Dr Margaret Barton-Burke, a professor of oncology - department of nursing at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre. The nurses then got to practice CBE on models. We then went on to a session about lymphoedema. There are currently no trained lymphoedema therapists within Kenya. The Breast Course for Nurses material was used. I started with the anatomy and physiology of the lymphatic system. Following this, we went through the Lymphatic Education Africa risk factors. We then went on to go through exercises that the nurses can share with their patients. There was a lot of enthusiasm and I hope that there will soon be a few trained lymphoedema therapists in the country.

Nursing oncology track
Day 2, session 1 was mostly to do with patient support including the role of counselling and psychosocial support. I gave a talk on the use of alternative information sources used by breast cancer patients and how these sources often influence the way that patients manage their breast cancer.

Advocacy presentation

Session 2 was about advocacy and policy for patients with breast cancer. David Makumi, chairman of the Kenya Network for Cancer Organisations and passionate cancer control advocate, gave a presentation about local perspectives on patient advocacy. He asked important questions such as "are patients receiving the best possible care?" and "is care being delivered by a multidisciplinary team as it should be?"

Nursing oncology programme
Session 3 had breakaway sessions with various topics.

The symposium ended with reflections and goals going forward. Dr Mutebi presented 5 aims including:
1. promoting regional technical collaborations
2. promoting greater participation in the global oncology community
3. reducing duplication of efforts
4. creating guidelines that are easily updated and disseminated
5. widespread participation within the African oncology community

Dr Mutebi, Dr Mwanzi, Lieske

Well done to all the organisers and sponsors on a brilliant first symposium filled with relevant information and workshops! A special thank you to Dr Miriam Mutebi for inviting me to attend and speak.

Thank you to the Breast Course for Nurses and Dr Jenny Edge for getting me there and back again.

And of course, when in Nairobi...always make the time to visit the giraffe sanctuary. You may even be fortunate enough to kiss one!"

Lieske at the Giraffe centre

- by Lieske Wegelin


  1. This is great! Thanks so much for posting and sharing information about Lymphoedema Risk Reduction information. We will be running a Lymphoedema course Training later this year in Nairobi for Health Care professionals in October and November 2018 sponsored by Lymphatic Education Africa in collaboration with Juzo Compression Garments distributor in Kenya. If anyone in Kenya is interested in learning more about Lymphoedema please kindly email us at register@lymphafrica.com



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