The African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer, AORTIC, has called for grassroots advocacy across Africa in cancer detection, prevention and treatment.
An Associate Professor of Haematology and Oncology at the University of Abuja and the local Chairperson AORTIC, Professor Obiageli Nnodu made the call at a Workshop.
She said that the aim of the workshop was to assist people with wide knowledge of cancer across Africa to become advocate of early detection, prevention, treatment, diagnosis and all the way to palliative care.
She said that, “if we are able to train people to recognise the early signs of cancer, they will come early and they will be cured. We want to train front liners like community health workers, researchers, media etc, on cancer so they can have enough information to give accurate knowledge to everyone. We want to train them so that they can teach others how to prevent cancer, detect it early and where to go, and even when it is detected late, they will be able to do end of life palliation”.
She noted that the goal was to effectively address cancer in Africa, as the organisation focuses on preventing, controlling, training and research in cancer.
Dr Gabriel Ogun, a Senior lecturer at the Department of Pathology, University College Hospital in Ibadan, said that adequate immunisation and vaccination could help prevent a large number of cancer cases in Nigeria.
He said that if the country takes up immunisation and vaccination seriously, a large number of cancer burden in men and women could be reduced to less than five per cent of what the country had now.
According to him, the most common cancer in women is breast cancer while prostate is common in men and the method for prevention used in the western world cannot be used locally.
Dr Ogun explained that for instance in the western world, women develop post menopausal breast cancer while in Africa, women develop pre-menopausal breast cancer.
”So if you use the method used in the western world and deploy it here, it wouldn’t work and if you deploy mammography in Nigeria, it will not be able to pick anything.
The expert said that there were lots of preventable cancers like liver cancer which was caused by hypertitis B virus and could be prevented through immunisation which was available in the country
Dr Ogun also noted that cervical cancer was 100 per cent preventable in women by getting the vaccination for human papiloma virus, which was also available.
He said that early detection and regular screening was key to saving cancer patients.
Some of the ways to prevent cancer is doing the following: ‘’’To quit smoking, drink alcohol in moderation, eat less, do not engage in risky sexual behaviour, do not share niddles and do not take unscreened blood and make sure your children are immunised,” he listed.
Modalities for treatment
Edem Nehemiah, Chief Consultant Anaesthesiologist, Pain and Palliative Care Physician, said that there were modalities for treating cancer, which were the drugs and non drugs methods.
He said that anaegestics were the best for treating cancer pain with drug, while non drug method include physical therapy, pastoral care and other ways.
Nehemiah further explained pain as an unpleasant sensual emotional experience that a patient undergoes.