Professor Abayomi Durosinmi-Etti, a Professor of Radiotherapy & Oncology, has raised serious alarm over the rising cases of cancer in Nigeria.
According to Vanguard, the expert also urged Nigerians to take proactive measures against the scourge.
Prof Durosinmi-Etti, a Consultant Radiotherapist and Oncologist, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, gave this warning while speaking during the inaugural lecture of the University of Lagos, that focused on cancer (the big ‘C’).
According to him, many Nigerians may be living with cancer without knowing.
Vanguard reports that the man declared that cancer has overtaken other Non Communicable Diseases, NCDs, in the country as leading cause of death. In his lecture entitled: “That we may overcome cancer”, the specialist said presently, about 10 million persons are diagnosed with cancer annually out of which six million die.
Half of these deaths occur in developing countries like Nigeria.
He said: “Breast cancer is the commonest female cancer followed by cervical cancer with both responsible for 50 percent of all tumours seen in Nigeria while cancer of prostate continues to be on the increase in men.
“A total of 100,000 new cases of cancer per year are being diagnosed in Nigeria and cancer in women has risen significantly, hence, the need for proactive interventions. There is need to continue the development of more cancer management infrastructure which are limited.”
Durosinmi-Etti said while cancer is more common in adults it can also be diagnosed at any age.
“Certain lifestyles choices are known to increase your risk of cancer such as smoking, drinking alcohol, excessive exposure to the sun, obesity, lack of exercise, and having unsafe s*x.
“Changing these bad habits can lower an individual’s risk of cancer. Family history and environment around you may contain harmful chemicals that can increase risk of cancer and chemicals in the home or workplace such as asbestos and benzene.”
He said Nigeria lacks infrastructure to treat cancer and which is expensive.
“To overcome cancer, there is need for us to acquire teletherapy machines because going by the IAEA recommendation Nigeria needs at least 200 teletherapy machines to the 500 people per megavoltage machine.
“Unfortunately, Nigeria has only nine of these machines serving 170 million persons despite the fact that radio therapy plays a major as 50 percent of all cancers require it.
“The country is also faced with problem of frequent breakdown of equipment due to erratic power supply, dust and the humidity among other factors. Presently only the machines at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, and National Hospital, Abuja, are functional.”
Durosinmi-Etti said goals of cancer treatment is to achieve a cure allowing a normal life span, adding that early cases are potentially curable.
“The myth that cancer is synonymous with death is changing as cancer is no longer a death sentence especially when diagnosed early.
“Treating cancer is expensive. I will recommend it is included in the National Health Insurance Scheme. Pharmaceutical companies involved in cancer drugs should be given some tax free incentives to make the drugs affordable. With the problem of forex the prices have risen by over 80 percent.”
Cancer prevention tips:
*Do not smoke or use tobacco.
*Keep active, avoiding certain infections such as HPV, and avoiding cancer risks in the workplace
*Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant sources — such as whole grains and beans.
*Avoid obesity. Eat lighter and leaner by choosing fewer high-calorie foods, including refined sugars and fat from animal sources.
*Drink alcohol only in moderation.
*Limit processed meats and red meat.
*Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active. For substantial health benefits, strive to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity.