13 August 2012

Uganda: HIV Makes Children Prone to Cancer

Kampala — 45% of Ugandans diagnosed with cancer die before the elapse of five years. Medical practitioners say that the secret behind curing cancer is early detection.

"Cancer can be treated if detected early but this can not materialize unless access to proper medical facilities, as well as awareness about the benefits of early detection is emphasized", said Dr. Jack Onyem the Director of Uganda Cancer Institute during the three day celebrations held in Kampala to mark 45 years of existence of the institute.

The institute was the first center of cancer treatment to be established in the country with the high prevalence of the disease.

Dr. Onyem says that increment in the number of cancerous infections in children is due to HIV/AIDS since their immune system is weakened by the Virus at an early stage since most of the children acquire HIV at birth.

He further explains that 45% of the women diagnosed with cervical cancer and 18% with breast cancer die before five years.

As part of the celebrations, people got free counseling services, free tests and treatment.

Ms. Allen Mayanja a principal nurse at the cancer institute advises those diagnosed with cancer to monitor and maintain proper nutrition.

"When you're getting treatment for cancer, your body is under assault from both the cancer and the treatment itself. So it's more important than ever to make sure that you're getting the nutrition, vitamins, and minerals you need to stay strong", she said.

The recommended foods while on treatment are proteins such as fish, chicken, dairy products, beans and eggs.

The nurse also advises people without cancer to continue taking cancer fighting foods.

"If you have two-thirds of plant food on your plate that seems to be enough to avoid excessive amounts of food high in saturated fat. Foods rich in vitamin D curb the growth of cancerous cells", she says.

Cervical cancer is the most rampant in the country and medical practitioners say that this caused by early engagement in sex and having multiple sex partners.

"Usually women contract the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) between their late teenage years and their early 30's. But most often cervical cancer is found much later, usually after the age of 40 and 45", explains Mayanja.

Over the years, the government has tried to create awareness about the disease but the tumor is increasingly killing Ugandans.

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