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New cancer cases, deaths to double in Africa by 2040 – WHO

…Says 116,000 new cases recorded in Nigeria

Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja

As Nigeria joined the rest of the world in commemorating the 2019 World Cancer Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO), has revealed that new cancer cases and deaths in Africa are projected to double by 2040. Speaking during a media round-table in Abuja on Monday, the WHO Regional Director, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, disclosed that estimated new cases in Nigeria as at 2018 was put at 116,000 while 41 cancer related deaths were also recorded. Dr. Moeti, who was represented by the WHO Officer in Charge (OIC) in Nigeria, Dr. Clement Peter, said that the epidemic of cancer has the potential to grow even faster than current projections as there is a greater adoption of behaviours such as smoking, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity. “Cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide. New cases and deaths from cancer continue to rise. In 2012, there were 14 million new cases and 8.2 million deaths, whereas in 2018 there were 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths. If current trends are maintained, the cancer burden in Africa is projected to double from 1,055,172 new cancer cases in 2018 to 2,123,245 cancer cases by 2040”, she said. While calling on the Federal, State and Local governments, international organisations as well as individuals to step up and work together to tackle the challenge, the WHO boss said that a future without cancer is a collective responsibility. She lamented that while early diagnosis of the disease can be treated, most cancer patients in Africa are diagnosed at a late stage and the prognosis for a positive outcome is lessened, even in cases where treatment is available and affordable. “Among the most important serious challenges facing cancer patients in most African countries are poverty, late and poor cancer diagnosis and lack of medical cover. The key drivers of the increasing cancer burden in Africa include increasing exposure to known cancer risk factors, such as tobacco use, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diets, alcohol use and environmental pollution. “26% of low-income countries around the world reported having public sector pathology services, and only 30% of these countries had cancer treatment services; however, 90% of high-income countries can offer such services. “Significant progress has been achieved in diagnostics and treatment of cancers in high-income countries. This has resulted in better prognosis and enhanced survival rates for cancers in high-income countries with 5-year survival as high as 80-90% for cancers that can be treated when detected early. “Sadly, most cancer patients in Africa are diagnosed at a late stage and the prognosis for a positive outcome is lessened, even in cases where treatment is available and affordable,” Dr. Moeti added. Dr. Moeti further called on individuals to engage and adopt healthy lifestyle habits, saying, “Behavioural activities, such as eating a proper diet, both in the type and amount of food, engaging in appropriate exercise and physical activity, and receiving appropriate clinical interventions to prevent cancer, are important”. The theme of the 2019.World Cancer Day, “I am and I will”, was chosen as a reminder that important actions if taken by individuals, groups, communities and political leaders can reduce the impact of cancer on our lives.

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