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World Cancer Day: Lung cancer most common worldwide– WHO

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.Projects 77% increase in cancer cases by 2050

.Expert urges govts to prioritise cancer care for affordable, quality services

.Upscale investments in radiotherapy, radiation, clinical oncologists urge govt.

.As Senator Oluremi Tinubu asks govt to deepen health infrastructure

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Blessing Akorowosi and Ibrahim Quadri

In the latest report of the World Health Organisation (WHO), on cancer cases worldwide, lung cancer was said to be the most commonly occurring cancer with 2.5 million new cases.


This is as the report projected over 35 million new cancer cases in 2050, a 77% increase from the estimated 20 million cases in 2022.


The WHO’s cancer agency, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), in its report released to mark the World Cancer Day on Sunday, February 4 noted that most countries do not sufficiently prioritise and fund cancer care services, as part of universal health coverage (UHC).


The result of the survey, which examined the global burden of cancer in 115 countries, shows an estimated 20 million new cancer cases and 9.7 million deaths in 2022.


The report pointed out some of the factors of the rising cases as people’s exposure to risk factors associated with socioeconomic development, tobacco, alcohol, air pollution, amongst others.


“The IARC estimates, based on the best sources of data available in countries in 2022, highlight the growing burden of cancer, the disproportionate impact on underserved populations, and the urgent need to address cancer inequities worldwide.


“In 2022, there were an estimated 20 million new cancer cases and 9.7 million deaths. The estimated number of people who were alive within 5 years following a cancer diagnosis was 53.5 million. About 1 in 5 people develop cancer in their lifetime, approximately 1 in 9 men and 1 in 12 women die from the disease.


“The global WHO survey on UHC and cancer shows that only 39% of participating countries covered the basics of cancer management as part of their financed core health services for all citizens, ‘health benefit packages’ (HBP). Only 28% of participating countries additionally covered care for people who require palliative care, including pain relief in general, and not just linked to cancer,” the release stated.


Highlighting the kinds of cancers based on number of cases recorded, the IARC stated that lung cancer was the highest occurring cancer worldwide with 2.5 million new cases accounting for 12.4% of the total new cases, followed by female breast cancer with 2.3 million cases (11.6%), third in the ranking is colorectal cancer with 1.9 million cases (9.6%), next is prostate cancer with 1.5 million cases (7.3%), and stomach cancer with 970,000 cases (4.9%).


“Lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer death (1.8 million deaths, 18.7% of the total cancer deaths) followed by colorectal cancer (900 000 deaths, 9.3%), liver cancer (760 000 deaths, 7.8%), breast cancer (670 000 deaths, 6.9%) and stomach cancer (660 000 deaths, 6.8%). Lung cancer’s re-emergence as the most common cancer is likely related to persistent tobacco use in Asia.”


On his part, the head of Union for International Cancer Control, (UICC) Dr Cary Adams stated that despite the progress recorded so far in the early detection of cancers, the treatment and care of cancer patients, there are still some lapses.


Adams decried the less attention given to cancer prevention and care by the leaders of countries and regions despite the resources available to them.


“Tools exist to enable governments to prioritise cancer care, and to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, quality services. This is not just a resource issue but a matter of political will,” he said.


.Upscale investments in radiotherapy, Radiation/Clinical Oncologists urge govt.


Meanwhile, the Association of Radiation and Clinical Oncologists of Nigeria (ARCON) has appealed to the Federal and State Governments to upscale investments in radiotherapy to increase treatment access for cancer patients.


President of ARCON, Dr Amaka Laosebikan, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos, in commemoration of the 2024 World Cancer Day.

Laosebikan noted that improving access to cancer care should be a major priority of the government, given the increasing burden of the disease in the country.

According to her, cancer care in Nigeria is marred by late presentation and poor access to treatment.

She, who stated that cancer treatment involved surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy and targetted therapy, however, noted that radiotherapy treatment was not readily available for cancer patients in Nigeria.

“There are about 14 linear accelerator machines across the country. Whereas, according to global best standards, we should have over 2,000 of the machines.

“The cost of the machine runs into several thousands of dollars. We need lots of investments in the machine in various states across the country.

“We also need to increase the number of centres offering these services nationwide,” she said.

NAN reports that a medical linear accelerator is the device commonly used for external beam radiation treatments for cancer patients.

It delivers high-energy x-rays or electrons to the region of the patient’s tumor.

The treatments can be designed in such a way that they destroy cancer cells, while sparing the surrounding normal tissue.

Laosebikan, who said that specialists needed to provide safe and effective radiotherapy, however, expressed the regret that such specialists like radiation oncologists, radiographers and medical physicists were in short supply in the country.

According to her, there used to be 75 radiation oncologists in Nigeria, out of whom 15 had left the country in the last two to three years.

“We need to increase the number of specialists, as those on ground are overworked and this can lead to burnout which is dangerous for the doctors, the patients and the health sector in general.

“It requires a long-term plan, scaling up in phases and getting the machines closer to where there’s manpower to operate them.

“The services we currently provide are grossly inadequate, coupled with the fact that the centres that provide such services are mostly expensive, unaffordable and inaccessible to many patients.

“It is a complex problem, but it is not insurmountable. As a nation, we need to be intentional about increasing those services across the country,” she said.

The ARCON president noted that the majority of Nigerian cancer patients pay for their care without financial support, stressing that enhancing access to quality healthcare services would reduce morbidity and mortality and improve treatment outcomes.

NAN reports that World Cancer Day is celebrated annually on Feb. 4 to amplify cancer issues at country, regional and global levels, and bridge the accessibility and affordability gaps as well as reduce disparities and inequity in cancer care.

NAN also reports that the theme for this year’s celebration is “Close the Care Gap: Everyone Deserves Access to Cancer Care.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) data showed that globally, there were an estimated 20 million new cancer cases and 9.7 million deaths in 2022, with lung, breast and colorectal cancers identified in that year.

Also, over 35 million new cancer cases are predicted in 2050, a 77 per cent increase in the estimated 20 million cases in 2022.

.as Senator Oluremi Tinubu asks govt to deepen health infrastructure


However, as the world marks World Cancer Day, the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Oluremi Tinubu said there is need to deepen efforts by government in putting in place necessary infrastructure to address the health challenges towards better care for cancer patients and survivors.


The First Lady gave the advice in a statement she personally signed and made available to our correspondent.


The theme for this year Cancer Day is with the theme, “Closing the Care Gap.”


Senator Tinubu said, “This year’s World Cancer Day presents an important opportunity to raise awareness and elaborate further the message of prevention, early detection,and treatment of cancer.


“The theme for this year, “Closing the Care Gap,” speaks to the fact that we are to deepen our efforts in putting in place necessary infrastructure to address these health challenges towards better care for cancer patients and survivors.


“No one should have to face the challenges of cancer alone. Let us continue to show empathy, care, love, and support for cancer patients and survivors, even as we create more awareness and advocacy for better service delivery.”


She however stated, “Also we are to celebrate those who are cancer free.”



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