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CEPC urges urgent action against disease on World Cancer Day

Nigeria’s late-stage cancer crisis could worsen by 2030

The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) a private-sector coalition at the forefront of the fight against cancer in Nigeria, is urging urgent action against the killer disease, saying cancer death rates are rising in Nigeria despite medical advancements helping to cut fatalities around the world.

At an event in Lagos yesterday to mark World Cancer Day, leaders of CECP presented grim statistics showing how Nigeria is lagging behind in the global fight against cancer.

Cancer kills about 80,000 in Nigeria annually and while only one in five survives breast cancer in Nigeria, the survival rate in the US has jumped to six out of seven cases.

In addition as many as 28 men are dying from prostate cancer in Nigeria yearly, up from 16 five years ago.

It was however not all grim. The death rate of women from cervical cancer in Nigeria has fallen from 26 to 22 daily, in one example of how concerted efforts can help defeat the cancer onslaught CECP said.

Pat Utomi, chairman of the event, told the gathering that it was important to pay attention to a scourge killing people because it was indeed a frightening one.

Utomi said that in many societies, cancer was being brought down dramatically but in Nigeria the situation is not so. He attributed whatever modicum of success achieved in country in dealing with cancer to the activities of the nation’s media.

“We are grateful to the media for helping to spread this news so we can be on top of the game in dealing with the issue. I implore media practitioners to see this war against cancer as a course not a mere report.”  he said.

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Frank Aigbogun, publisher of BusinessDay, and a co-chairman, media committee of the event, called on all Nigerians to wake up and confront the scourge. He charged every journalist to contribute to its eradication in the country. He said: “We must not relent in spreading the news on awareness as journalists and it must not end today or after reporting this event.

“ It must be continuous. When we get the opportunity to meet eminent people, we must ask them what they are doing to help fight this scourge.”

Recently, the media was awash with news of several cancer-related deaths, especially of very important and well-known personalities.

Sharing his experience at the event, Alfred Ohiani, an engineer and pastor revealed that, “the rate the scourge is spreading is alarming, and those who are fortunate to discover it early have reasons to be grateful to God. He told the gathering that, he went for Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test and found out it was high, but he  was initially told it was not malignant, “But after a year it turned out to be so.

“I got to India and was told it was limited within the prostate so it was removed. The campaign must be ongoing. Years ago people were brought to University Teaching Hospital in Ibadan to be treated but today they are flown to India for treatment. A lot has gone wrong and must be corrected” Alfred admonished.

According to him, “when the late Nelson Mandela had prostate cancer at the age of 83, all aspects of his diagnosis and treatment took place in South Africa. He was successfully treated and cured, and remained cancer-free until his peaceful transition 12 years later, at the age of 95”

Abiola Andu, MD/CEO, Arabel Group of Companies, said that he read in a daily recently that cancer had become a silent killer “and I disagree because it is not a silent killer, it is a large scourge making a lot of  ‘noise’ and it can be eradicated if we all put our hands on deck”

February 4, every year is marked worldwide by the United Nations/World Health Organization (WHO)  as World Cancer Day. In 2015, the theme is ‘Not Beyond Us.’ It takes a positive and proactive approach to the fight against cancer, highlighting that solutions do exist and that they are within our reach.

The global cancer epidemic is huge and is set to rise. Currently, 8.2 million people die from cancer worldwide every year, and four million people between aged 30 and 69 die every year prematurely.

According to the WHO, over 100,000 Nigerians are diagnosed with cancer annually, and about 80,000 die from the disease; this comes to 240 Nigerians every day or 10 Nigerians every hour, dying from cancer. The Nigerian cancer death ratio of 4 in 5 is one of the worst in the whole world.