The world cancer day, February 4th 2015, is a great opportunity for the entire globe to shine a spotlight on the tremendous challenge that cancer poses to the health of the world. The WHO reported over 14 million new cancer cases globally in 2012. The number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next 2 decades. Cancer is responsible for about 13% of all deaths worldwide. Low to middle income countries (LMICs) like, Nigeria, bear a disproportionate burden (65%) of these deaths because they are less prepared to combat the disease. Globally, cancer causes more deaths than, HIV, TB, and malaria combined! Nevertheless, in Africa, the funding to fight these infectious diseases, far out strips the funding to combat cancer. Nigeria and other African countries face an impending cancer epidemic and must rise to the occasion now. Policy-makers, health care professionals and citizen-advocates must unite in this cause.
Prevention is the most cost-effective approach to fighting cancer. Cancer screening is a critical component of prevention. The 3 most common cancers in Nigeria are breast, prostate and cervical cancer. Colon cancer is also on the rise. These four cancers have well established screening tests to either detect abnormalities before they become cancerous or to detect the cancer very early. The screening tests include mammography for breast cancer, the PSA lab test for prostate cancer, Pap smear for cervical cancer and colonoscopy for colon cancer. These tests are readily available in Lagos at several facilities such as the Lakeshore Cancer Center.
A diagnosis of cancer is not a death sentence! The cure rate of early cancers is over 90%. Thus, everyone should be encouraged to undergo screening. Cervical cancer screening should begin at the age of 21, breast and prostate cancer screening at the age of 40 and colon cancer screening at the age of 50. Additional information can be obtained from your doctor. About a third of cancers can be prevented. Steps that we can all take include having a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, avoiding cigarette smoking and markedly limiting our alcohol consumption. Vaccines against viruses such HPV that causes cervical cancer and HCV that causes liver cancer are also available.
Currently, a major problem with cancer treatment in Nigeria is the late stage at which patient’s seek care. Some of this has to do with cultural barriers. It is important for the public to know that cancer is not due to witchcraft or any evil in the patient. This may encourage people to seek treatment. Cancer is actually a collection of diseases characterized by the loss of control over the division of cells. These cells grow uncontrollably and damage nearby organs. They also aim to spread through vessels to distant sites where they continue to attack other normal organs in our bodies. Tools for cancer treatment include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Palliative care is also a crucial component of treatment. This involves the effective relief of the various symptoms of the disease.

In conclusion, it is important to emphasize that a third of cancers can be prevented, a third are potentially curable and a third can be palliated effectively. Everyone should be screened for cancer so that it can be prevented or cured.Resources are desperately required from our government leaders and philanthropists to help provide widespread screening and treatment for cancer. Additional needs include the tools to measure accurately the burden of cancer in Nigeria, the training of skilled cancer treatment professionals and the provision of facilities/equipment for accurate diagnosis and treatment. The time for action is now! In commemoration of World Cancer Day, on select days in February, Lakeshore Cancer Center is offering free clinical breast exams along with discounted screening services. For further information, please call 08099715000 or email

Professor Chukwumere Nwogu, MBBS, PhDnwogu-chukwumere-nid1165
Cancer Epidemiologist; Surgical Oncologist
Medical Director, Lakeshore Cancer Center
14 Amodu Tijani Close (Off Sanusi Fafunwa St)
Victoria Island, Lagos

Join The Exquisite VIPs
We Want To Send You Free Copies Of Exquisite Magazine Digital FREE For 3 Months

Sign Up to our Exclusive VIP list and have it delivered to your inbox for FREE

Invalid email address
(We promise you won't receive daily spammy sales from us)

Leave a Reply