By Yinka Kolawole
The pioneer Head, Radiation Oncology, University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan and member of the National Consultative Committee on Cancer Control, Prof. Dapo Campbell, has revealed that over 10,000 Nigerians die yearly from cancer, while over 250 new cases are diagnosed yearly.
Stating this at a week-long cancer sensitisation and screening workshop in Osogbo, organised by the Gracious Youth Empowerment Centre in partnership with the Osun State Ministry of Health, he said the scourge has remained the leading cause of death among non-communicable diseases in Nigeria.
“The prevalence has continued to increase due to low awareness, gross inadequacy of treatment facilities for patients, as well as the lifestyle of Nigerians,” adding that poor dieting has contributed in no small measure to the increased prevalence of the scourge in the country.
Campbell, who delivered a paper on ‘Clinical Perspective to Cancer Prevention and Treatment’, said Nigerians must consciously watch what they eat, as this would help prevent e disease in the first case.
Corroborating Campbell’s position, the Director, Cancer Research and Molecular Biology Laboratories, University of Ibadan, Professor Oyeronke Odunola, counseled that by eating much vegetable, fruits and regular exercise, Nigerians can stem the tide of cancer.
The GYEC chairperson, Remi Ajibewa, lamented that despite cancer being preventable, most women in Nigeria especially those living in non-metropolitan cities like Osogbo and its environs lack information on the disease, diagnosis and funds for treatment.
She noted that “most women continue to succumb to premature death simply because they do not have access to information on this disease,” she added.
Also lending his voice, the Chairman, National Consultative Committee on Cancer Control in Nigeria, Prof. F.A.Durosinmi-Etti said about 49.8 per cent of all cancer cases occur in women, with breast cancer accounting for 26.2 per cent and cervical cancer accounting for 23.6 per cent.
He said cancer care was expensive and currently mainly borne out of pocket by many patients. “Government subsidy through NHIS is desirable. Available treatment facilities are still grossly inadequate. There is an urgent need for continuing education of all cancer care professionals on current skills and knowledge.
“Cancer is often perceived as a disease that strikes for no apparent reason. This is because scientists don’t know all the reasons. But many of the causes of cancer have already been identified. Besides heredity, scientific studies point to the existence of three main categories of factors that contribute to the development of cancer: chemicals (e.g., from smoking or diet), radiation, and viruses or bacteria,” he explained.
He noted that in some cases, people don’t know there were chemical, physical and biological agents that trigger the cell mutations that causes cancer, adding that they are referred to as carcinogens, including tobacco, ultraviolet radiation and asbestos.
The sensitisation programme, which started September 5th to 9th, involved workshop, capacity building for health personnel and the screening of over 200 women across the state.
Governor of the State, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and other dignitaries graced the occasion.