Africa records around 1.1 million new cases of cancer, 700 000 deaths yearly – WHO

By Joseph Erunke

ABUJA– AS Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the 2022 World Cancer Day, the World Health Organisation, WHO has said Africa records around 1.1 million new cases of cancer, resulting in up to 700 000 deaths every year.

The global health agency said only in 2018, an estimated 9.6 million deaths were due to cancers, making cancers the second leading cause of death globally.

Listing breast, colorectal, lung, cervical, and thyroid cancers as the most common among women while lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach, and liver cancers as also common among men, the WHO, in the state quoted its Technical Officer for Noncommunicable Diseases, Dr. Mary Dewan, as insisting that:” Every year, Africa records around 1.1 million new cases of cancer, resulting in up to 700 000 deaths.”

“Breast cancer, along with cervical, prostate, liver, and colorectal cancers, account for almost half the new cases on the continent annually,” WHO said.

According to WHO,” In Nigeria, an estimated 115 950 cases were detected in 2018 with 70 327 deaths recorded. Breast cancer is the most common among women while prostate cancer for men.”

“Modifying or avoiding key risk factors as week as implementing existing evidence-based prevention strategies could prevent up to 30-50% cancer deaths. Some of the risk factors include; avoiding tobacco use (including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco), maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol use, practicing safe sex, getting vaccinated against hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV) amongst others,” the agency’s statement read.

It noted that” Early detection, availability of treatment options administered alone or in combination, and palliative care are critical to cancer survival.”

Recall that World Cancer Day, being marked February 4 of every year had this year’s theme as:‘’Close the care gap”, marks the start of a three-year campaign to raise global awareness around cancer and its impacts, especially on most vulnerable citizens.

While noting that early detection, availability of treatment options administered alone or in combination, and palliative care were critical to cancer survival, the organization said
Prof. Ime-Obong EKanem, Chief Consultant Pathologist and Director of Calabar Cancer Registry in University of Calabar Teaching Hospital had benefited by surviving the disease as a result of this.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 but because of early detection, I only had breast-conserving surgery. After the surgery, I took hormonal therapy for five years and was declared cancer-free in 2016” she said.

“Currently, we advocate for mammography and pap smear with free cancer screening every Wednesday in some clinics in Calabar, Cross River State.

“The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) has also launched a program named Chemotherapy Access Treatment (CAP) Programme where Nigerians get cancer care and drugs at a subsidized rate which enables access to lower-priced, high-quality treatment at hospitals and pharmacies and reduce the burden of out-of-pocket payments.

“CAP is a public-private partnership between the Federal Ministry of Health, Clinton Health Access Initiative, the American Cancer Society, Pfizer, Worldwide Health Care, and EMGE resources”, it quoted Prof. Ekanem as saying.

“On its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) is committed to working with the government to tackle the scourge of cancers globally. Through its various platforms, WHO promotes cancer control within the context of comprehensive national cancer control programmes that are integrated to non-communicable diseases” said Dr. Mary Dewan, WHO Technical officer for Noncommunicable Diseases.

In Nigeria, WHO supported the “development and the implementation of the 2018-2022 National Cancer Control Plan, the Strategic Plan of action on Cervical Cancer and the 2019 implementation plan for Cervical Cancer.

“The Government was also supported to develop and implement the 2019-2025 National Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) Multisectoral Action Plan which promotes a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to tackling NCDs and its risk factors including Cancers.

“Since late last year, WHO, Clinton Health Access Initiative, Medicaid Foundation and Raise foundation are working closely to improve awareness and treatment of breast and cervical cancers in Kebbi and Niger States. The initial phase is aimed at screening 50 00 women in each state,” the statement further read.

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