Kenya’s Only Female Breast Surgeon Elected to Global Cancer Body

Dr Miriam Mutebi, Consultant Breast Cancer Surgeon, clinical epidemiologist and health systems researcher at Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi.

Dr Miriam Mutebi, Consultant Breast Cancer Surgeon, clinical epidemiologist and health systems researcher at Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi has been elected to the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) Board of Directors.

As a world cancer leader, she will provide global, continental and regional representation for a period of two years (2021 – 2022) and will be key to directing the discourse around cancer management and policy in the future. As the first African Oncologist to hold this position she will be key in ensuring that the voice of the African patient is heard.

UICC is a global cancer body representing the world’s major cancer societies, ministries of health, patient groups, policy makers, researchers and cancer experts from 170 countries. The body aims to unite and support the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, to promote greater equity, and to ensure that cancer control continues to be a priority in the world health and development agenda.

Dr Mutebi is the only female Breast Surgeon in Kenya and has been involved in extensive research geared towards improving the management and treatment of breast cancer patients. In 2018, she conceptualized and assembled a team to run the First International Breast Cancer Symposium in sub-Saharan Africa to enhance a multidisciplinary team approach to breast cancer care. The ethos behind the symposium being, low resources should not equal suboptimal care.

In 2019, she pioneered the first International Oncoplastic Workshop in sub-Saharan Africa bringing together 27 international and local faculty and creating a platform for surgeons and residents in training to participate in learning better surgical techniques for breast cancer management.

She was part of the team that pioneered nipple and skin sparing mastectomies and in collaboration with Dr Radovan Boca, conducted the first ‘Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator’ (DIEP) flap in East Africa. DIEP is a breast reconstruction procedure that offers hope to breast cancer survivors. The procedure involves using the patient’s own body tissues to create a new breast post mastectomy. She has also pioneered innovative techniques in localization of breast lesions such as the MagSeed localization and Radio guided occult lesion localizations (ROLL) that are used to remove breast tumours that one cannot feel and that are only detected on screening imaging like mammography. 

Dr Mutebi is the co-Chair of Aga Khan University Hospital’s Annual International Breast Cancer Symposium and current Treasurer and Head of Scientific Committee for Kenya Society of Haematology and Oncology’s (KESHO) 2020 International Cancer Conference. She is the Vice President East Africa of the African Organization for research and training (AORTIC) and is the education and training committee of the same organization. She serves on two Lancet commissions as a commissioner on the Cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa commission and on the Lancet Commission for Women and Cancer. She is also the co-founder of the Pan African Women’s Association of Surgeons(PAWAS) that aims to provide mentorship and support for women in surgery and to improve surgical health care on the continent.