September 25, 2023

 Angela Onwuzoo

Medical experts say cancer is curable and no longer a death sentence if detected early and presented for treatment.

The experts urged Nigerians to stop being afraid of cancer and come out for screening. 

The physicians spoke during an awareness walk organised by Me Cure Healthcare Cancer Centre in Lagos to mark this year’s World Cancer Day with the theme, ‘To close the care gap: Uniting our voices and taking action’.

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

Medical Director of Me Cure Cancer Centre, Dr. Adeoluwa Adeniji, said the walk was designed to massively create awareness for people to know that cancer is no longer a death sentence. 

Adeniji, who is a clinical radiation oncologist said, “Screening of cancer is the way to detect cancer early, to ensure that people diagnosed with cancer have access to care. 

“We have a programme in Me cure that enables financial affordability in cancer treatment. Me Cure is also giving out free cancer screening programmes for at least 1000 people to cover breast cancer screening, cervical cancer screening, and prostate cancer screening.

“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 programmes 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. 

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

“What we are emphasizing now is screening and early detection. Once an individual can come for screening annually and he can detect cancer 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, about 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. 

“In a week alone in our centre, we can have up to 50 new cancer cases. A lot of people are getting to know more about screening, so they are coming out, unlike those days when people stayed indoors. 

“We are even talking about one centre alone. By the time you combine all the cancer centres, you will notice that the number is on the rise.”

Continuing, he said, “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. 

“We don’t have that yet in Nigeria. That is why the Me cure cancer center is well positioned to be able to help Nigerians and even Africans in taking care of any cancer burden that they may be facing.”

The firm’s Cancer Centre, Cyclotron & PET – CT Manager, Forhad Hossain, said PET-CT is now available in Nigeria, adding that the scan helps to detect small cancer in the body.

Chief Strategist for Me Cure Healthcare, Dr. Kunle Megbuwawon, said the health facility had come up with strategies and plans to make cancer screening and treatment more affordable to common Nigerians.

He said with N200,000, a Nigerian diagnosed with cancer can get themselves treated under the firm’s cancer treatment plan. 

He said, “We are using more people to support people that have cancer and we are using the money for them. We are saying that people should not be dying of cancer anymore. We are preventing cancer at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels; we are prevention-driven and treatment driven.

“We have the PET CT scan in the whole of West Africa. In terms of treatment, we stand out as the best in West Africa. We don’t want this centre to be focused on only those that can afford it. 

“Universal Health Coverage says people should have access to the healthcare that they need. Cancer is not a death sentence; the cost of care is no longer a barrier. We are working today to fight against Megbuwawon noted that Mecure was offering free cancer screenings to 1000 Nigerians to mark the 2023 World Cancer Day celebration.

World Cancer Day is an international day marked yearly on 4 February to raise awareness of cancer and encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. 

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