By CHIOMA OBINNA & VICTORIA OJEME
As Nigerians join the rest of the World to mark World Cancer Day today, medical experts have said that 30 percent of cancers can be prevented through healthy life style. This is even as they blamed superstitious belief as major factor fueling cancer treatment abandonment in the country.
Making the assertion in Lagos and Abuja, the experts in separate interviews, also explained that prevention and early detection are keys to cancer control.
In the views of the Executive Secretary, Sebeccly Cancer Care and Support Centre, Dr. Omolola Salako, “30 percent of cancers could be prevented, by not using tobacco, having a healthy diet, being physically active and moderating the use of alcohol.”
She further stressed that in developing countries up to 20 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented by immunization against the infection of hepatitis B virus and human Papilloma virus.
Salako, who identified awareness as the first step to early detection and improving cancer outcomes, regretted that in Nigeria, 85 percent of patients present in advance stages, with attendant poor outcome. To this end, Sebeccly Cancer Care is commemorating this year’s World Cancer Day by launching the “Sexy Virus Campaign”. The campaign will focus on viruses that cause cancer, called oncoviruses. Such viruses include; Hepatitis B virus, HBV, and hepatitis C virus, HCV, both associated with cancer of the liver, human Papilloma viruses, HPV, associated with cervical, oral and anal cancer.
Corroborating her views in an interview in Abuja, the Principal Investigator of the National System of Cancer Registries, NSCR, Professor Clement Adebamowo stated that smoking, obesity and HIV increases the risk of acquiring certain cancers.
Adebamowo, advised that Nigerians can reduce their risk of acquiring cancer by living healthy lifestyles. “Smoking is associated with lung cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer. There are also infections like hepatitis, HIV and human papilloma virus that increase the risk of certain cancers.” he said.
He also added that the lack of physical activity among Nigerians, especially the working class increases the risk of obesity and therefore breast cancer, prostate, and colon cancer.” Adebamowo, who is also the Director Strategic Information, Training and Research of the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, IHVN disclosed that the Institute in collaboration with the government had established the National System of Cancer Registries to address the lack of data on the occurrence of cancer in the country.
”Cancer registries are important because they help us to know which cancers are occurring, where they are occurring and whether the rate at which they are occurring are changing over time. That can give a clue to cause of cancer in the country.”.
On her part, President, Children Living with Cancer Foundation, CLWCF, Dr. Nneka Nwobbi who decried the rate of treatment defaulters blamed it on ignorance and superstition surrounding anything in Nigeria. She said “Completing treating at a go, is hard to see in Nigeria. The parents discharge their kids against medical advice while some don’t come back as at when due because of this, by the time they come back, even those caught early, may have spread.” She called for massive awareness on cancer as well as the need to improve the support systems such as transfusion, imaging, oxygen and the need resolve crisis among healthcare workers to ensure uninterrupted healthcare