Nigeria: Experts - Cancer Deaths May Reduce If Patients Seek Medical Help Early

22 April 2021

Cancer specialists and oncologists have said that Nigeria's estimated 72,000 annual cancer burden and deaths may reduce if patients seek appropriate medical help early.

This and others were the areas of discussion at the virtual 7th Oncology Webinar series put together by Lakeshore Cancer Center, Victoria Island recently on the theme, "Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Management".

The speakers for this webinar were: Senior Resident in Radiation Oncology at the NLCC (NSIA-LUTH Cancer Center), Dr. Chidi Agbakwuru; Consultant Medical Oncologist, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Dr. Chinenye Iwuji; Clinical Psychologist, Busola Olamuyiwa; the Medical Director of PainDoc Africa Limited, Dr. John Adesioye, and Head Nurse at Lakeshore Cancer Center, Uche Iroh.

According to GLOBOCAN 2020 estimates, there were 19.3 million new cases of cancer and almost 10 million deaths from cancer in 2020. Nigeria records 102,000 new cases of diagnosed cancer annually.

With this, the experts stressed that palliative care programmes have proven effective in reducing distress, promoting patients' quality of life, increasing family satisfaction, reducing hospitalisation time and finally reducing cost and increasing positive outcomes overall.

They also maintained that religious leaders have a role in supporting spiritually and socially but not taking over the role of the clinical practitioners.

The Head Nurse at Lakeshore Cancer Centre, Uchenna Iroh, recommended that nursing care be planned to promote patients' comfort and provide adequate support for families.

She among other speakers sought the need for coverage of cancer care under the National Health Insurance Scheme and at the state level, just as she noted that late diagnosis of cancer patients remains a major problem in the country.

Some of the specialists noted that government must intervene in ensuring that people are encouraged to receive proper medical attention, adding that the roles of public education, especially making people to understand that cancer is not a death sentence, was sacrosanct.

They unanimously agreed that necessary steps, including regulations on some palliative and pain medicines, were necessary to fight the disease.

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