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Author Topic: Nigeria: All Claimed By Cancer  (Read 2709 times)
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Francis Umeoguaju
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« on: March 03, 2011, 01:45:01 am »


Cancer is one of the world's most killer diseases today that has defied total cure. It is one of the major causes of death in Nigeria especially among the women who die from cervical and breast cancer.
The burden of cancer is increasing globally with an expected 20 million new cases in 2020, half of which will be in low and middle income countries.
According to the World Health Organisation Report, Nigeria alone is estimated to have 350,000 new diagnosed cases annually which WHO further stated will increase to about 500,000 by the 2020.
The high prevalence of HIV experts say was largely responsible for the escalating rate of cancerous ailment across the globe particularly in Africa.
The 4 commons cancers found in Nigeria are prostrated and liver cancers in males and breast and cervical cancers in the females.
In recent times breast and cervical cancer is gaining global attention.
In Nigeria, the disease is not only causing anxiety among the old and middle aged women but also in teenagers.
The disease no doubt can be said to be the major cause of death among Nigerian women today irrespective of their social class and age.
Unfortunately,themedical profession is yet to the sudden rapid scourge yet demystify the sudden rapid scourge of the disease which is today spreading in a manner never expected before.
Expert say cervical cancer is caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Both cervical and breast cancer they say can be prevented if detected early and the right vaccine taken. Cervical cancer affects the womb of a woman.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Isaac Adewole in an interview with Daily Champion said over 10,000 Nigerian women die of cervical cancer annually in a painful , miserable and undignifying manner.
Prof. Adewole said 80 per cent of cases in Nigeria were presently in advanced state were little and nothing can be done.He also observed that Nigeria generally records 100,000 new cases of cancer annually.
According to the University don, cancer is alarming in Nigeria because we have not put in place measures to detect and treat cancers at pre-cancer and early cancer stages.
He said" We also have in abundance cancer promoting factors like infection, diet and poor life-styles"
Despite the high prevalence of cancer in Africa and Nigeria in particular ,Prof.Adewole insisted that both cervical and breast cancer can be prevented," 40% can be treated successfully" he assured.
He said"There is a prevention vaccine against Human Papilloma Virus-HPV, the virus that is responsible for cervical cancer. The vaccines are available in Nigeria but beyond the reach of the common people who need it, he noted
However, he further revealed that cervical cancer is now on the decline worldwide as many countries have acquired cervical cancer preventing vaccines-Human Papilloma Virus vaccine deployed on nationwide basis for girls who are predominantly at risk and boys who infect the girls.
Asked on the way out,the erudite scholar posited that for Nigeria to witnessed reduction in cancer scourge, the federal government must be able to do what the developed nations are doing to address the health challenge, "hence the right attitude and measures must be in place".
"Developed countries have self breast examination as a routine and offer mammogram to women above the age of 50 years .We are yet to adopt any of these as national priority"
He called on the federal government to adopt the HPV vaccine through the National Programme on Immunization and be given to all Nigerian girls between the ages of 9 and 15 (before they commence sexual activity.
Other measures enumerated by the Premier University Vice-Chancellor included, provision of adequate fund,research, awareness campaign and the education of Nigerians that about 40% of cancers are preventable. Again he said, the government should also declare cancer control a national priority and establish a cancer control department.
Nigerians on their part should also make themselves available for regular check and screening for early detection of the disease irrespective of the economic crunch.
The Director-General of Nigerian institute of Medical Researcher (NIMR) Prof. Innocent Ujah attributed the high prevalence of cancer in Nigeria to traditional faith and belief system of many Nigerians.
To tame the scourge he said, there should be a renewed effort in cancer awareness and improvement in cancer screening method.
He said since some of these cancers are preventable, the scourge can also be address by generating a data from all parts of the country whereby already identifiable risk factors are properly documented, while observing other emerging issues.
The Coordinator of National Cancer Research Network (NCRN) Dr. Nkiru Odunukwe said in places where HIV prevalence is high, the overall incidence of cancer seems to have increased by 15 per cent.

Dr. Odunukwe who is also a Deputy Director Research Head of Clinical Science Division of NIMR said to fight cancer head on in Nigeria, the goal 6 of the Nigeria cancer control plan which is to increase research activities in cancer control must be implemented immediately without further delay.
Again she said, it is necessary to put in place a mechanism to identify epidemiological risk factors for cancer in our environment to save lives.She also called for a commom working document that will serve as a guide among stakeholders and researchers in cancer.This she said will help the government come out with a national cancer policy that wiil help tackle the disease.
While assuring that increase in capacity building will go a long way in addressing the cancer scourge, Dr. Odunukwe also believe that increase in infrastructure, increase cancer research centres establishment of a central Data Bank will help adequately in the management, prevention and treatment of the disease.
When the federal and state governments enthusiastically put the above underscored measures in place, Nigerians would no doubt heave a sigh of relief in this area of health challenge.
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