Insufficient oncologists, equipment affecting cancer treatment, says NCS

Sodiq Ojuroungbe

The President of the Nigerian Cancer Society, Dr. Adamu Umar has raised concern over insufficient oncologists in Nigeria to treat cancer patients.

The NCS president revealed that there are less than 100 oncologists across in the country, lamenting that this has affected the treatment and diagnosis of cancer.

While revealing that over 100,000 cancer cases were recorded yearly across the country, Umar stressed the need for more intervention in reducing the figure. Which he noted was alarming.

According to Cleveland Clinic, an oncologist is a healthcare provider who specializes in diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

The World Health Organization described cancer as the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths, or one in six deaths, in 2018.

The WHO noted that lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervical and thyroid cancer are the most common among women.

According to the global health body, more than 50 per cent of cancer patients require radiotherapy as part of care and it is frequently used to treat the most common types like breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer.

Yet, access to radiotherapy is inadequate, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, the WHO noted.

Speaking exclusively with PUNCH Healthwise, Dr. Umar said there are only 13 functional radiotherapy machines in both private and public hospitals across the country.

He, however, said the country needs about 300 radiotherapy machines for cancer treatments for Nigeria’s population.

He added, “In Nigeria, we should have at least 300 radiotherapy machines as opposed to the 13 that we have. So many African countries don’t even have the machine but we have some, even though we are still struggling.

“We have fewer specialists in the country. Nigeria has less than 100 oncologists and this is affecting the treatment of cancer.

“Data collation is also a big challenge that we are trying to tackle because it will go a long way in getting and making us to know the actual figure of people with cancer.”

On how to tackle the shortage of cancer specialists, Umar said, “We are making efforts to encourage our youth to take up oncologists courses at universities so that we can have more of them.

“We are optimistic that things will get back and we believe the government deliberate efforts to fight this will also help.”


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