80% cancer cases presented late to oncologists in Nigeria, says expert
Consultant, Clinical Oncologist/ Lecturer, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Dr. Omolola Salako, has lamented that the country high rate of cancer fatality is due to the fact that patients are not presented to specialists on time for treatment.
She said 80 per cent of cancer victims in Nigeria are referred to experts late rather than earlier because they undergo treatment at the hand of non-specialists.
Salako made the remark at the second edition of the Ellen Adeyinka Anjorin Cancer Foundation memorial lecture held in Ikeja, Lagos State.
The lecture is an annual event in honour and memory of Mrs Ellen Adeyinka Anjorin, who died of Colon Cancer on July 7, 2019, aged 57.
The specialist, who revealed that the country has 120,000 new cases of cancer annually, warned that non-specialists doctors compound the problem rather than help the situation by the wrong approach to cancer treatment.
Speaking on the theme, Cancer Treatment with Special Reference to Chemotherapy – Pros and Cons, Salako stressed that regular periodic tests at qualified cancer facilities for early detection, treatment and possible cure are important.
“The first point of call for symptoms should be a standard medical facility, not a religious centre, quarks, use of supplements or outright denial of the existing health challenge,” she said.
On cancer treatment, she said the country still has inadequate facilities as Nigeria only has 13 radiotherapy centres against 300 it’s needed. She added that the nation has only 100 clinical oncologists (CO), with most of them based in big cities like Lagos, while 10 states are without the expertise of CO.
According to her, the ratio of CO to new cancer cases in Nigeria is 1 to 1,250 and mortality at 70 per cent compared to the United States where the ratio is 1 to 137 and mortality 19 per cent. “We need more specialists to stem the tide,” she said.
To reduce cancer risk, she urged lifestyle modification, healthy meals, exercise, vaccination, annual medical check-up and cancer screening.
Speaking on Coping with the side effects of chemotherapy and outlook, Consultant, Clinical Oncologist/Lecturer, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Dr. Ismail Zubair, said people doubt the efficacy of chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer, noting that side effects are not always as bad as people think, stressing that oncologists can prescribed doses that are high enough to destroy cancer cells at a level that minimise side effects.
He proffered solutions to managing many likely side effects of chemotherapy such as fatigue, hair loss and chemo brain, among others.
Founder of the foundation, Olusegun Anjorin, said during the course of his wife sickness and treatment, they discovered that financial implications, treatment pattern and education are paramount issues of concern in cancer management.
He stated that the foundation was set up to create awareness on cancer, educate the general public on the need for prevention of cancer and ultimately put in place a world-class centre that is accessible and affordable to all.
Anjorin said: “To further assist in curbing the increased rate in cancer cases, the government should look into industrial waste management, especially in major Nigeria cities due to increased rate of industrialisation.”
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