An oncologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Dr Anthony Popoola, on Thursday urged governments and non-governmental organisations to further educate Nigerians on the symptoms of cancer.
Popoola made the appeal in an interview with newsmen in Lagos.
He said that cancer was a major cause of death in developing countries, including Nigeria, but regretted that many people were still ignorant of its signs.
“There is the need for people to go for periodic general screening so that cancer and any other abnormality in the body can be detected early, “he said.
The specialist noted that the World Health Organisation predicted that, by 2020, cancer could be killing up to 10 million people annually with the number of new cases increasing to 15.7 million.
“In Nigeria, there is no organised or accurate data collection of the number of cancer patients, but it is known that the incidence of the disease is in the increase, “ Popoola said.
He said that cancer could affect any age group, and that there were factors that could lead to the disease.
“Such factors include environmental, such as exposure to cigarette smoking; infections, which include the Human Papilloma Virus and genetics,“ he said.
The doctor said that breast, cervical, prostate and colorectal cancers were the commonest in Nigeria.
He regretted that while there were methods for screening these types of cancer, Nigeria had yet to get adequate facilities for their diagnosis and treatment.
“We are not yet there in terms of adequate facilities; lack of manpower and the awareness is very low,“ he said.
Another oncologist at the Bloom Cancer Centre, Lagos, Dr Mario Adelaja, advised that people should focus on the prevention of the disease.
He said that about 70 per cent of cancers could be prevented if detected early.
“Prevention is by having proper awareness, then setting up proper screening procedures by identifying those who are at risk and those who have it, “ he said.
Adelaja expressed regrets that Nigeria lacked manpower for the treatment of cancer.