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Oncologist seeks better fortunes for cancer management in Nigeria

By SOLA OGUNDIPE

IN accordance with the promotion of adequate cancer diagnosis and treatment, the former Head of Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Trauma at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, Dr Samuel Eyesan, has called for the establishment of a reliable National cancer registry and at least two designated cancer centres in the country.

Eyesan, an Associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Bowen University, Ogbomosho, Oyo State, and pioneer of orthopaedic oncology as a sub-specialty of surgery in Nigeria, also asserted that the nation requires no less than 10 orthopaedic oncologists and 16 designated cancer centres.

“Before we can treat cancer patients properly, we need adequate data, but it is regrettable that in Nigeria today, we have no proper cancer registry where all cancers are recorded. Without this important data base, we cannot project on diagnosis and treatment. It is a big drawback,” he noted.

He explained that although the burden of bone cancer is rare, there are patients who require treatment for it. “Of the 106,000 new cancer cases in Nigeria yearly, 1-2 percent is primary bone cancers but the cases are treated anyhow because there is no guideline. These cancers should have a direction for management and the patients referred accordingly, so that one can quickly identify the condition and refer directly to the appropriate person so that there is no problem later.”

Recalling that there was once a cancer registry at the University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan, Eyesan said the issue of cancer registry is one that has to be driven from the centre.

“The UCH cannot drive it. If government makes a policy that every cancer case must be registered and sent to National cancer registry, over time, we will have a reliable base to work from. At the moment, the registry in Ibadan is working on its own, unlike in the UK where the registry is the central control. That is what we need to start here.”

“In health generally, apart from data, we need human capital improvement. In my specialty, where there are only three trained bone cancer specialists, one of who is based in the United Kingdom, there should be least 10 specialists  and two designated centres where every case of bone or soft tissue tumours can be investigated within a designated period.

“I took up the sub-specialty and I am the first to be trained and to be working in the country. My aim is to lift the standard. I want to train somebody to improve on the sub-speciality at the NOH, Igbobi, so that what I have put in place will not die, he argued.”

Eyesan, who was Chairman of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, MDCAN, 1982-2001, said there was increase in cancer cases in the country primarily because awareness is improving for doctors and patients and also because diagnoses can be carried out faster and more accurately.


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