Cancer now curable, late presentation cause of deaths, say oncologists 

Angela Onwuzoo

Specialists in the field of oncology have said cancer-related deaths are highly preventable when the disease is detected early and presented for treatment.

The experts, who underscored the importance of regular screening identified late presentation as a major cause of death in cancer patients.

Cancer is an abnormal growth of body cells that kills normal cells and stops them from functioning properly which might lead to death.

The physicians in separate interviews with PUNCH Healthwise, pointed out that cancer is no longer a death sentence.

One of the experts, the Medical Director of Me Cure Cancer Centre, Dr Adeoluwa Adeniji, said there was a need for people to know that cancer is no longer a death sentence.

Adeniji, who is a clinical radiation oncologist, said people are still dying of cancer in Nigeria due to late presentation.

Harping on the importance of regular health checks, the oncologist, said, “Screening of cancer is the way to detect cancer early, to ensure that people diagnosed with cancer have access to care.

“Cancer is no longer a death sentence especially when it is detected early and that is the purpose of the screening.”
The oncologist said people are still dying of cancer in Nigeria due to late presentation.

“The issue is that a lot of people don’t come for screening programs and they don’t come when the cancer is still small. They come around in Nigeria, in Africa when cancer has taken over the entire body.”

Adeniji noted that when presented late, treatment of cancer would not be as effective as when it was presented early for treatment.

“At that point, even the best of the centres all over the world may not be able to cure it.

“What we are emphasising now is screening and early detection. Once an individual can come for screening annually and cancer is detected early, then it is no longer a death sentence, it can be cured and that is what we are saying at this point.

“And it does not mean once they are diagnosed with cancer, that is the end of the whole thing. They need to see a specialist who will give them all the information that they need about the diagnosis, the staging, and the treatment”, he explained.

According to him, cancer screening is affordable, urging women to examine their breasts every month after seeing their menstrual cycle.

Adeniji lamented that the number of new cancer cases recorded in Nigeria annually was worrisome.

The oncologist noted, “The number of new cases of cancer that we have in Nigeria every year is above 140,000.
The recent findings talk about 140,000 new cancer cases in Nigeria annually and that tells you that the number is huge to have that in one year.

“The pathetic part of it is that Nigeria has few oncologists and centres to take care of cancer patients unlike in the developed world where they have adequate manpower and infrastructures to take care of them.”

He further urged Nigerians with symptoms of the killer disease to seek help early and do away with the misconception that cancer is a death sentence.

Also speaking, the Chief Clinical Director, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Cancer Centre, Dr Habeebu Muhammad, said early detection is crucial to reducing cancer deaths in the country.

According to him, the reason why people die from cancer is because they arrive late to the hospital when the disease is at an advanced stage.

The oncologist assured that early detection saves lives, reiterating that early detection was crucial in reducing cancer mortality and the huge financial cost associated with the management of the disease.

According to him, people need to know about cancer, know the early signs, present early, and do screening so that they can save lives.

“The challenge we have is that patients present late. They present late because first, they are not aware of the signs and symptoms.

”The bleeding from the vagina or weight loss and all the other symptoms associated with cancer are ignored and people don’t present on time.

“Once you present late, the likelihood that the oncologists and the team of cancer care specialists will be able to achieve a cure is lower. So that is the challenge in Nigeria.

“The top four cancers that we are dealing with are breast cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, and colon cancer”, he said.



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