Ayodeji Ake

Non governmental organisations,Care Organisation Public Enlightenment (COPE) and Bricon Foundation have decried the late presentation of cancers in the country, saying it leads to at least 80 per cent of deaths recorded from the disease.

They said most Nigerians only prefer to access hospitals for diagnosis and treatment only when their cancers have reached advanced stages, an action that leads to a high number of deaths from cancers in the country.
The Chief Executive Officer, COPE, Ebunola Anozie while addressing journalists in Lagos, noted that the number of new cases are expected to rise by 70 per cent over the next two decades, adding that statistically, one in six deaths is due to cancer.

She said around one third of deaths from cancer were due to some leading behavioural and dietary risks. “High body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use are high risk factors. Also, sexually transmitted HPV infections, hepatitis or other carcinogenic infections, ionizing and ultraviolet radiation, urban pollution and indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels have been found to contribute to the prevalence of cancer.’’

She noted that the negative socio-economic impacts of cancer on the country is enormous and will worsen if nothing is done to stem the tide.
“The average Nigerian cannot cope with the enormous cost associated with the treatment of cancer coupled with the lack of diagnostic and treatment centres as well as dearth of qualities personnel have made this a tedious, perilous journey,” she said.

The Media and Public Relations Manager, Pfizer, Ngozi Ushedo, stated: “We will continue to work together and speak with one voice to help raise awareness on early detection in reducing cancer risks and improving the quality of lives for cancer survivors and patients.”

Co-Founder, Bricon Foundation, Mrs. Abigail Simon-Hart, said the healthcare system leaves more to be desired as majority of cancer patients lose their lives to poor management, lack of state-of-the-art equipment, non-affordability and high cost of anti – cancer medications, persistent breakdown of our outdated radiotherapy machines, and incompetent medical hands.

She said: “Even when cancer patients present early, they are either unable to receive immediately treatment due to long queues or are delayed for one unpalatable reason or another which unfortunately gives the cancer cells the opportunity to spread. As a result, we have prevalent cases of women with a stage one cancer diagnosis eventually becoming stages three or four.”