Feeding on widespread ignorance about the disease, cancer of all forms has continued to wreak havoc on humanity, prematurely cutting down destinies and dreams. It has remained the world’s number one killer disease.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently revealed that new cancer cases and deaths in Africa are projected to double by 2040. Statistics have shown that estimated new cases in Nigeria as at 2018 was put at 116,000 while 41 cancer related deaths were also recorded.
Despite efforts by government and other relevant stakeholders to raise more awareness on how to live a healthy life, cancer has continued 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.
In Nigeria, this chronic illness with often severe effects is a potential death sentence. There is hardly anybody who doesn’t know somebody who has either died of, or is suffering from it.
The death of many low and high profile figures from cancer should be a wake-up call for government to be more committed to addressing the rising incidence and cost of cancer in Nigeria.
To combat the menace, an intensive community-based mass cervical cancer screening campaign is desirable.
Nigerians cannot afford the cost of cancer care. When it strikes, even the rich become beggars. Cancer management must be recognised as team work and government must take the lead. Cancer control must be centrally coordinated and the Federal Ministry of Health must take up that role.
We are of the opinion that government should admit that cancer is now an issue of primary health concern and a major cause of premature death of Nigerians irrespective of age, sex, or social class.
They should take the bull by the horn by equipping public hospitals and medical centres with effective diagnostic capability to quickly detect and treat cancer infections.
The government at all levels should recognise the urgent need for the institution of a policy for mandatory free annual screening checks at local, state and national levels and put in place long-overdue comprehensive world class centres for cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Cancer is not like malaria or typhoid that weighs you down when it starts. It is not a physical growth that you can easily see. Medical experts call it maligned tumour, it grows abnormally and it spreads.
So the earlier you nip it in the bud, the better. A lot of people walk around not knowing that they have this disease inside of them until it gets to a very alarming stage before they find out.
This is why it is also very important to raise awareness on imbibing in healthy lifestyle such as good diet, exercise and regular medical checkups.
Knowledge is key in the fight against cancer and in getting people to be conscious of their health, they need to know what to do. When people are armed with knowledge, spread of cancer would be reduced.
Regular screening is very important because we believe that some of these issues can be nipped in the bud if it is detected early. If you discover you have an ailment, you take care of it on time.
Cancer should not kill anybody anymore because there are opportunities for it to be detected and if detected on time it can be stopped.