DAKAR - A Senegalese anti-cancer group is encouraging women to get mammograms after a drop in the number of women getting screened because of coronavirus concerns. 

Senegal’s Anti-Cancer League says fewer women are getting breast cancer screenings because of concerns they might contract COVID-19.

To boost screenings for October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, the league partnered with medical centers and hospitals to give discounted prices.

For those unable or scared to visit hospitals, the Pink October truck sets up in public spaces and offers free consultations.

30-year-old Damien Konkobo is one of the doctors offering medical advice to Senegalese women.

He said those who come here are women who have never been diagnosed with breast cancer. Among those patients, he said, some already have abnormalities or masses that they have had for about a year, but they have never done a consultation.

The Anti-Cancer League’s Oumar Diop says the pandemic, and related restrictions, are also discouraging cancer patients from getting treatment.

Diop said he has noticed that many have given up on their treatment because of this pandemic.

He said many have given up on their treatment because of this pandemic. But we, at the league level, have tried to do our best by guiding patients who did not have the income to travel by paying their transport and to encourage them to continue their treatment, Diop said.

The World Health Organization says over 10,500 cases of cancer are diagnosed every year in Senegal - 35 percent of them are cervical and breast cancers.

Doctors say when detected early, the vast majority of breast cancer cases can be treated.

40-year-old mother of three Bintou Ndiaye Sarr took a break from her accounting job to get tested.

She said, with this pandemic, she was very afraid to come for a mammogram. But, with the awareness campaign since the beginning of October, she said, she gave herself a push and said to herself, ‘why not? I’m going to get tested.”

Senegal’s Anti-Cancer League says the campaign has been a success with hundreds of women visiting the Pink October truck daily.