‘Nigeria records 500,000 fresh cases of cancers yearly’

Cancer cells

Cancer cells

Why few survive the scourge, by oncologists

From a Professor of Oncology and Radiotherapy at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos (CMUL)/Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi-Araba, Francis Durosinmi-Etti, yesterday came a startling revelation that 500,000 new cases of cancers are diagnosed yearly in Nigeria.

Speaking at his inaugural lecture, titled: “That We May Overcome Cancer: The Odyssey of a Radiation Oncologist”in Lagos, Durosinmi-Etti further advanced reasons why very few Nigerians survive the scourge, citing lack of basic infrastructure and late report by patients.

To address the menace, the oncologist wants government to set up a taskforce to rehabilitate and resuscitate moribund radiotherapy services in country, offer tax-free incentives for pharmaceutical industries to make drugs affordable, and include cancer as one of the diseases to be catered for in National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Durosinmi – Etti, who is also the Chairman of the National Consultative Committee on Cancer Control (NCCCC) charged with the formulation of a national cancer management and control policy for Nigeria under the Federal Ministry of Health, said diagnosed cases rose from 100,000 in 1999 to 500,000 in 2015 across the federation.

“The incidence of cancer is on the rise globally, likewise is global cancer deaths which have been projected to increase from 7.4 million in 2004 to 11.8 million in 2030 with cancer accounting for the highest incidence in global deaths. At present, from a world population of six billion, about 10 million cases are diagnosed annually with six million deaths.

“More than half of the cases (56.8 per cent) and cancer deaths (64.9 per cent) in 2012 occurred in less developed regions of the world like Nigeria and these proportions will continue to increase.

“Breast cancer is the commonest female cancer in Nigeria followed by cancer of the cervix with both responsible for almost 50 per cent of all tumours seen in Nigeria while cancer of the prostate (10 per cent) continues to be on the rise in men,” he added.

Also speaking, the Head of Radiology at the Eko Hospitals Lagos, Prof. Kofi Duncan, noted that about 92 per cent of cancer patients report with late stages three and four, when they are already battling death.

At this stage, Duncan said: “We can only help them manage for a while and treat them to die with dignity and less pain, because they were dying before they met us.”

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