A call has been made to the Federal government to save millions of lives from late detection of breast cancer by introducing mandatory breast cancer screenings in all the states and local governments of the federation.
This is even as men have been advised to make themselves available for breast cancer screening as it has been proven that to also affect men. This call was made recently at a walk organized by Project Pink Blue to commemorate this year’s International Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Speaking at the walk which kick-started at the Blue Roof, Ikeja, down to Allen Avenue and back to the kick off point, the Acting Executive Director of Project PINK BLUE, Mr. Emeka Nwagboso decried how minimal attention has been given to a dreaded disease which takes the lives of 31 men / women daily in Nigeria.
He said: “In Nigeria, many people perceive breast cancer as a female or women issue, hence, when you are talking to people about breast cancer, they say ‘oh it’s for women’ and very few attention is given to breast cancer in our healthcare plan. The truth is that men also have breast cancer; we have seen many men who are down with breast cancer. So there is a need for everyone to get involved in breast cancer awareness. We need to save our men and women from breast cancer deaths. It’s not a woman’s thing.
“Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Nigerian women and the leading cause of cancer death in Nigeria, with an estimated 26,310 new cases and 11,564 deaths in 2018. Breast cancer incidence in Nigerian population historically has been low but is now
increasing. As at today, 31 women/men die every day from breast cancer in Nigeria.
A recent report by World Health Organization (WHO) / International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), shows that cancer is a critical public health problem in Nigeria with 115,950 new cases and 70,327 cancer deaths in 2018 as against 102,079 new cases and 72,000 cancer deaths in 2012.
To tackle this menace, Nwagboso urged the Nigerian government to take the incidence of cancer as serious as they did on HIV/AIDS some years back.
“Several years ago, the government established mandatory HIV/AIDS screenings in all facilities, once anyone visits the healthcare centre, he or she is immediately undergoes HIV/AIDS screenings. If we apply same method to breast cancer, we can reduce breast cancer
deaths. As at today, over 80 per cent of breast cancer cases presented to doctors are at late stages 3 and 4 and at late stages of breast cancer, it is only palliative care that the patients can reduce,” said Nwagboso.
The Deputy Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly Mr. Sanni Eshin-lokun, also threw his weight behind the need to make the screening process readily accessible, pointing out that the assembly is working on making the process easier for Lagosians.
“Lagos State House of Assembly has enacted a law on the awareness and treatment of cancer. The Lagos state government is working towards making it easier for the people in Lagos. Both men and women have to always check themselves. The awareness is not a one off thing. We have to continue to do it even through television and radio,” said the deputy speaker.
The five kilometer walk was well attended by stake holders in the health and government agencies.
Participants and members of the public were also provided with free breast cancer screenings.