Health Specialist, Prof. Oyeronke Odunola Raises Alarm On Rising Cases Of Cancer In Nigeria

The Director, Cancer Research and Molecular Biology Laboratories, Biochemistry Department, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Prof. Oyeronke Odunola, has said cases of cancer in Nigeria is on the rise.

The expert identified hereditary predisposition, epigenetic changes, sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets as major causes of cancer in the country.

Prof. Odunola said this at the maiden edition of the Ellen Adeyinka Anjorin Cancer Foundation’s annual memorial cancer awareness lecture, tagged, ‘Cancer Prevention and Survival’ held virtually. She told PUNCH

“Cancer is on the increase in Nigeria like most other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The National Cancer Control Plan (2018–2022), stated that cancer is responsible for 72,000 deaths in Nigeria every year, with an estimated 102,000 new cases of cancer annually.

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Global Cancer Observatory 2018 reports said Nigeria recorded 115, 950 cases of cancer that year. 22.7 per cent were diagnosed of breast cancer, 12.9 per cent were diagnosed of cervical cancer, 11.3 per cent were diagnosed of prostate cancer, 5.8 per cent were diagnosed of colorectal cancer, 4.6 per cent were diagnosed of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 42.7 per cent were diagnosed of other types of cancer.

The most prevalent types of cancer in Nigeria are, therefore breast cancer, cervical cancer, and prostate cancer. Colorectal cancer and blood cancers like multiple myeloma and leukemia are also on the increase.

In addition to hereditary predisposition and epigenetic changes, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diets; consumption of contaminated underground water; and exposure to environmental insults such as carbon fumes from car exhaust, home and industrial generators, fires woods, campfires, burning of spent tyres; petroleum products (engine oil, diesel, domestic cooking gas); cigarettes smokes; electromagnetic waves from cell phones and remote controls are some of the major causes of cancer.”

However, the prof. noted that cancer may be frightening and its prognosis poor but is not a death sentence. She said,

“Early detection, proper and correct diagnosis and adequate treatment are the keys to survival. The stage of cancer at detection and presentation in the hospital is very critical to survival.”

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The professor of Biochemistry said the lecture became necessary to amplify the message that cancer could be overcome through early detection and correct diagnosis, appropriate treatment, follow-up as well as support for patients and survivors.

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