Cancer remains the leading cause of death around the world.
Doctors say the fight against cancer in Africa is threatened by lack of finances for treatment and the reluctance of patients to seek medical advice early.
Cancers on the continent often stem from other diseases that could be controlled, such as human papillomavirus. This is closely linked to cervical cancer, which along with breast cancer, is one of Africa’s biggest killers.
A course of chemotherapy costs $8 and above – beyond the reach of many.
Breast Cancer Support group, Abuja chapter and breast cancer survivor Gloria Orji was first diagnosed with a benign tumour in 2009 which was removed but shortly after, another tumour developed, this time a malignant. She went in for surgery again.
Orji says she has faced many hurdles accessing treatment in Nigeria.
To supplement her treatment she usually takes moringa, a natural herb which she says has helped boost her blood count.
Orji says: “Many of our members, they complain of the same thing. It’s either the doctors are on strike or the radiotherapy machines have broken down, no reagent for the like the bone scan. It’s nuclear medicine before you get the reagent, so many protocols, in fact, you have to book. I remember I was asked to go for bone scan in 2012, I ended up doing that in 2014, because the reagent was not there, and eventually when it came, there were so much queue that it still didn’t get to me, so you find out that these things keep coming up. And when it’s like that, cancer cells are not waiting for you.”
According to the WHO, the most common cancers in Africa are cancers of the cervix, breast, liver and prostate as well as Kaposi’s sarcoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
With appropriate investment and public awareness on symptoms of common cancers many more lives can be saved.