By Chioma Obinna
Hope may have been rekindled for Nigerians who are battling with various stages of cancers, as scientist have shown that with latest medical equipment used in the treatment of the dreaded disease, most cases can be cured or effectively managed like other chronic diseases such as hypetension and diabetes.
According to a renowned Indian Radiation Oncologist, Dr. N. Madhusudhan with the advent of latest technologies such as cyberknife, tomotherapy, truebeam among others, cancer will no longer be incurable.
Madhusudhan, who is also a cancer specialist at the Healthcare Global Enterprise Ltd, HCG Cancer Hospital Bangalore, India maintained that 95 percent of cancer cases could be cured with the present day medications.
The Associate Oncologist, who was in Lagos however, regretted that findings in Nigeria showed that most Nigerian cancer patients present at late stages when little or nothing could be done for them.
He chaallenged the Nigerian government to launch better cancer awareness in the country as well ensure that these new technologies are brought into the country for better management of cancer in the country.
Madhusudhan said in the worst case scenario, the latest medical technologies could effectively control the disease just like diabetes and hypertension.
“Now, people can live with cancer, we can control and make the people live longer. So, it is not the end of life for anybody. We need to introduce these latest medical equipment and drugs in Nigeria.”
Throwing light on cancer: he said: “Basically, cancer means an unregulated production of cells. What it means is that for any cells there will be a regulation, it will be controlled through the body. So without any control they will be multiplied and as they do that, they spread to other places.”
Madhusudhan who disclosed that there have been 14.1 million new cases in the world, according to 2012 statistics, said statistics available have shown that in Nigeria, the most common cancer in women is breast followed by cervical cancer whereas in men it is prostate cancer and then the colon cancer.
The oncologist who is a specialist in 2D Treatment Planning, Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), CyberKnife, brachytherapy, chemotherapy and clinical oncology decried that Nigeria is still lagging behind in modern technologies to achieve a better result in cancer treatments unlike other parts of the world.
He said that with the latest CyberKnife which is the only robotic radiation delivery system for non-invasive, painless, treatment for cancerous and non-cancerous tumours and other conditions where radiation therapy is indicated people would not need to remove the entire breast when it comes to breast cancer or in the case of prostate cancer.
“Presently, removal of the whole breast is not required except in very few instances where the whole of the breast is involved. The new chemotherapy can remove only the tumour,” he said.
“Once we diagnose that a patient is having cancer, we do evaluate properly and thoroughly. For example in breast cancer, it is not just to start the treatment for the patient, the first thing is to evaluate properly, what the disease is bothered on and do some molecular analysis.
“There are many factors we need to consider before we start chemotherapy or surgery. There is a molecular aspect. Another thing is what stage the patient belongs to; we have stage one, two, three and four. So truly speaking, we are to do a proper staging.
Further, he blamed high cancer mortality in Nigeria on negligence and ignorance.
“Nigerians leave cancer cases to advance stages compared to other countries. People here are not educated on signs and symptoms of cancer fully. Even if they dictate some lumps, they will feel its normal lump, it may not be cancer and then they will go to the quacks or to herbal medicines. During the time they have lost some useful times neglecting it and going to quacks for treatments and when it is finally at an advanced stage it will spread to different places then they are coming seeking for medical attention. So this is the cause of high mortality in Nigeria than other countries.” he said.
“Cancer is multi factorial in origin and therefore very difficult to say that some agents can cause cancer. He however, pointed the risk factors.
“For example in breast cancer, those who did not breast feed, those who don’t have children and those with longest stay of monthly period and late menopause are at high risk of developing breast cancer because the patient will be exposed to more of estrogen progesterone . But it doesn’t mean that definitely, persons with all these things will always develop breast cancer.
“Even smoking, at times, increases the risk of developing cancer but all these things does not mean that if a person smokes that he is going to get cancer, there are multiple factors,” he added.
He charged Nigerian doctors to acquaint themselves with the new facilities available in other parts of the world. “Nigerian doctors have to be educated on what the standard is. Cancer is not like other diseases like typhoid or malaria where you can try one or two medicines because you can have a second or third chance. With cancer there is no second or third chance. You are to kill all the cancer cells first otherwise the patient’s life will be at danger.”