Cancer Kills 41,000 People in Nigeria, Says WHO

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World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that 41,000 people lost their lives to cancer out of 166, 000 cases recorded in Nigeria last year.

WHO Nigeria Health Emergency Team head, Dr. Clement Peter, made the announcement to journalists while addressing them as part of activities to commemorate the World Cancer Day at the WHO headquarters in Abuja.

Peter said Nigeria might continue to experience a rise in the scourge if stringent measures are not taken by individuals, communities and the federal government towards addressing the key drivers of the disease.

He listed some of the key drivers as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diets.

The WHO chief said the disease could be prevented and the burden reduced if individuals, families and communities were willing and ready to make the necessary changes to their ways of life.

Peter urged individuals, families and communities to therefore engage in and adopt healthy lifestyle such as eating proper and healthy diets, engaging in appropriate exercises and ensuring routine medical check at all times.

He also urged the populace to ensure proper vaccination against cancer.

According to him, “In 2018, we recorded an estimated 166,000 cases of cancer burden in Nigeria and 41,000
deaths.

“The most prevalent types of cancer in the country are breast cancer, cervical cancer and prostate cancer.

“This disease is preventable if we as individuals, families and communities make the conscious decision to make healthy lifestyle choices.

“The driving forces of cancer are tobacco use, alcohol consumption, unhealthy eating habit and lack of exercise.

“Alcohol consumption should be reduced. Most of us are busy; therefore, we tend to eat fast foods, gain weight and fail to exercise, thereby increasing our chances of developing the disease.

“If we are able to address these issues in our own individual way, the burden of cancer is going to be reduced because the cost of diagnosis and treatment is expensive.

“The federal government is doing a lot to introduce and ensure enforcement of policies that will help address disease burden of non-communicable diseases, which cancer is one of.

“We need to support government’s efforts by making better and healthy choices in terms of our diet and exercise.

“The government cannot do it alone. It is the effort we make individually, as families and communities that would help make the change we desire to see.”

He quoted the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, in her message to commemorate the World Cancer Day as saying: “A future without cancer is within our individual and collective grasp.”

Moeti said globally, 14 million new cases and 8.2 million deaths were recorded in 2012 while in 2018, 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths were recorded.

The regional director stated that if this trend was maintained, the cancer burden in Africa was projected to double from 1,055,172 new cases in 2018 to 2,123,245 cancer cases by 2040.

She said among the most important challenges facing cancer patients in most African countries were poverty, late and poor cancer diagnosis and lack of medical cover.

Moeti reiterated the key drivers of the increasing cancer burden in Africa to include tobacco use, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diets, alcohol use and environmental pollution.

She urged stakeholders to also address current inadequate access to cancer diagnosis and therapies and intensify awareness on cancer from the grassroots to urban communities.