Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
A cancer awareness campaigner and university don, Prof Hadiza Usman, has asked the Federal Government and development partners to step up awareness campaigns on cancer, describing statistics about the disease as shocking.
Usman, who is also the Head of Department, Obstetrician and Gynaecology, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), told Daily Sun in an interview in Maiduguri, that cancer awareness in Nigeria was very low.
“Many people are not aware of how fatal cancer is. They don’t go to the right place to get the right information. There is still a lot of myth surrounding it. People think cancer is caused by witchcraft. They don’t report at the hospital for diagnosis at the initial stage until it becomes very critical,” the OB/GYN said.
She said the level of awareness was worse among lower classes and the poor. Usman urged the government to increase awareness beyond the annual commemoration of the World Cancer Day.
She expressed concern over the attitude of cancer patients, particularly women. She said many women with cervical cancer were often shy to visit hospitals for early diagnosis. She said it costs between N1,500 to N5, 000 in many hospitals in Nigeria to do a test, but costs between N1.5 million to N2 million or more to treat cancer.
Cancer according to medical experts is a disease involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to spread to other parts of the body.
The United Nations declared February 4 as the World Cancer Day to raise awareness about the disease, diagnosis and treatment.
Breast and cervical cancers are the most common in Nigeria, experts said.