By Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
It has been identified that no fewer than 500 women are being affected by cervical cancer on yearly basis with over 50 per cent mortality rate
This was made known by the Acting Managing Director, Clinical Services, Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, Dr. Olatunji Alabi, during an advocacy visit by members of Civil Society for Cancer Network Eradication in Nigeria (CISCANEN) to the centre.
Alabi, who listed poverty and ignorance as serious factors, also identified high cost of treatment, lack of comprehensive medical check-up and late presentation of cases as major causes of cancer-related deaths.
The experts, while expressing the view that “cancer kills more than malaria”, noted that fear of treatment and side-effects, rate of illiteracy and poor awareness contribute to the high rate of such deaths.
He identified the most common cases as breast, cervical and prostate cancers, saying that just as hereditary had always been fingered as one of the major factors, environmental factors were also culprits.
He also attributed the rampant cases of the disease to common environmental factors like tobacco, bad dieting (especially calorie intake), environmental pollutants and lifestyle.
According to Alabi, who was represented by Dr. Taiwo Olaoluwa, Acting Head of Clinical Services at the centre, these environmental factors enhance abnormalities in the genetic materials of cells.
He warned that cancer diseases were not susceptible to and could not be conquered by emotions or had known curative drugs but could be prevented through awareness and early detection.
Alabi regretted that manpower to man cancer equipment at the centre was inadequate due largely to high cost of hiring the specialists adding the situation was a major challenge facing prevention and treatment.
He challenged CISCANEN and related organisations to come to the aid of cancer patients, to save millions of citizens from avoidable death by encouraging them to undertake tests through subvention of the costs.
“Although the cost of a Mammogram test for breast and pap smear for cervical cancer is N1,500 most patients are unable to pay for it and as such, stay away from test and treatment,” he said.
Dr. Kassim Davidson, Consultant Haematologist and Dr. Seyi Fadahunsi, consultant pathologist at the centre noted that the disease was being diagnosed on daily basis at the MTN Mammography centre in the hospital.
Speaking earlier, Mr. John Alao, Kogi Coordinator of CISCANEN urged the management of the centre to create an enabling environment for screening and treatment of cancer patients in the hospital.
Alao reiterated the fact that prevention and early case detection of cancer was better and easier to manage than a fully established one and called for synergy between the management and the CSO to save lives