Hospital, Professor Aderemi
Tajudeen Ajekigbe, recently
disclosed that two million cases
of cancers are recorded in Nigeria
yearly with 100,000 new cases
recorded annually.
Despite the prevalence of breast
cancer with figures showing
that one out of four women are
developing breast cancer, the
International Cancer Centre
along Airport Road in Abuja is yet
to take –off. And for the reason
of inadequate radiotherapy
treatment machines and lack of
operation of the cancer centre,
most patients tend to go outside
the country for treatment. This
further intensifies the reason for
medical tourism by Nigerians.
Dr. Rasaq Olusegun , Chief
Consultant Radiotherapist and
Oncologist, National Hospital, in
an exclusive interview with this
paper recently, confirmed that
there is increase in the incidence
of breast cancer now in Nigeria
for various reasons such as
change in lifestyle and traditional
He said secondly, there is an
increase in the number of young
patients having breast cancer
‘’the reason for that we are still
studying, it could be change
in eating attitude, change in
environment and other thing. We
cannot say specifically the cause
but we do know that over a long
period of time our diets have
changed drastically. ‘’
According to Dr Olusegun,
other risk factors to breast cancer
is heredity, which means that it
also runs in the family but people
don’t take cognisance of it. If a
mother has breast cancer, the
children also must be at alert by
checking themselves regularly
because of likelihood of getting it
later in life.
And what is World Health
Organisation, WHO, standard
for provision of a Radiography
machine to patients?
We don’t have enough but by
WHO standard we should have
about 400 of such machines
scattered all over the country
but right now there are only
six radiotherapy machines in
the country and only two are
working , one in Sokoto and the
other here in Abuja, Olusegun
‘’ Right now it is grossly
inadequate. If we have six
machines in one single centre it is
not too much, if you go to other
African countries there some
centres where they have about six
According to the Onocologist,
Nigeria is operating far below the
WHO Standard, he said. ‘’No we
don’t have enough radiotherapy
machines, what we have are like
we don’t have. The minimum
that we need in the country is
about 40-50 machines all round
the country. We have just about
six in the country and out of
this six only two are working in
Sokoto State and remaining four
are in Lagos, Ibadan, Benin and
Enugu States.’’
He said that each of the cancer
treatment centres should have
about 3-4 machines whereby
if one is faulty the rest will be
working and there won’t be
disruption of treatment.
‘’ There are many survivors
elsewhere in other countries, but
what can a doctor do at this stage,
this are some of the frustrations
that doctors have but if they come
earlier there are so many things
to be done to prolong life and
save their lives but instead they
prefer going to prayer houses or
‘’At the same time a lot of
patients take just fruits, Aloe
Vera fruit plant alone, there is
nowhere in the world where this
can substitute the treatment of
breast cancer or any other cancer.
Our people are so gullible, he
Experts also say that another
problem breast cancer patient’s
encounter is that not many of
them can shoulder the cost and
again most of the victims go to
different types of doctors who
are not oncologists,, thereby
complicating their illnesses.
According to findings by
this paper, and corroborated
by experts, it was discovered
that the cost of treating breast
cancer is not cheap because the
fees for surgery, radiotherapy,
chemotherapy could be as high as
N250, 000, radiotherapy is about
N100, 000- N150, 000, .
There is type 1 of breast
cancer that you can treat with
chemotherapy and there is type
2 that can be treated with N5-N6
million and it is no respecter of
Rampaging breast
cancer in Nigerian
Mrs. Angela Akpan, a 35-
year- old mother of three lovely
children is dead because she
was diagnosed late of breast
cancer infection.
According to her husband,
Mr. John Akpan who spoke to
Nigerian Pilot Sunday, neither
him nor his late wife knew
that she could ever be afflicted
by such a terminal disease.
Today Mr. John Akpan is a
widower and his three children
Before Mrs. John died, she
was a budding career woman,
wife and worker in the church.
For almost three years Angela
has been visiting different
doctors and undergoing
various tests to know what the
cause of her illness was, Mr.
John said.
In the cause of looking for
a solution for her ailment,
Angela and her husband also
visited various healing and
prayer homes for treatment
and counseling, but all to no
A woman, Mrs. Judith Okeke
who spoke with this paper,
on a treatment bed while
undergoing chemotherapy
treatment at the National
Hospital, lamented that the
cost of treating breast cancer is
too much.
How did Mrs. Okeke get
to know that she is suffering
from breast cancer? She said,
‘’I didn’t know because it was
not painful but by chance my
hand touched my armpit, I
felt a lump and I rushed to the
hospital. Before now, I have
spent so much money trying
the cause of my illness.’’
The dilemma women with
breast cancer patients are
facing in the country is that
there are not enough machines
to go round for treatment of the
hundreds of patients across the
Madam Okeke who said that
was the third treatment she was
getting, lamented that most of
the machines in Nigeria are not
good. ‘’They are not working’’,
she said.
‘’The machines in Ibadan and
Lagos are not good so people
are too much here in National
Hospital. When the machine
is overworked it breaks down
and people have to go back to
their homes, after spending
money. But rumours have it
that the machine in Ibadan is
under repairs but we are not
too sure.’’
‘People are suffering. In this
hospital there should be about
three machines. People waiting
for their turn sometimes sleep
on the ground, waste money
without getting treatment and
go back home frustrated’ she
also said.
These women are among the
hundreds of women suffering
breast cancer and related
diseases. In fact, statistics show
that more women are afflicted
with breast cancers due to
change in lifestyle and eating
Hundreds and thousands of
women in Nigeria are daily
being diagnosed of breast
cancer and statistics show that
the growing number of women
with the ailment is quite
alarming, doctors reveal.
An expert in Radiography and
Oncology at the Department of
Radiography and Oncology at
the Lagos University Teaching
cancer were diagnosed in less
developed countries with 53%.
And with the latest scenario of
breast cancer in Nigeria, it is fast
becoming a public health issue.
According to Dr. Olusegun,
Breast cancer is a form of
excessive growth of tissue in the
breast. It could start from any
portion of the tissue because
the breast contains lobules
and ductules. More often than
not it starts from the lobules
that produce the breast milk.
It starts from one single cell
and grows rapidly and then
forms a lump. It depends on
the nature of the breast cancer
in an individual, because breast
cancer is a conglomerate of a
lot of diseases. It could grow
rapidly in one, two months
and more than that but there is
always a lump. And so doctors
advised that when a woman
notices a lump in her breast she
should report immediately to
the hospital.
Breast cancer is painful; it feels
harder than the usual with liquid
discharge and nipple retraction.
Normally the nipple points but
if it now points inwards there
is a problem or when you press
it instead of milky, whitish
liquid coming out there is blood
coming. Or you see a lump that
is painful and it was not there
before and increasing in seize,
or a discoloration over the
breast you quickly come to the
hospital, Olusegun said.
Also if there is lump, pain,
discoloration over the lump,
nipple discharge or you feel a
lump in your armpit. Because
the first port of call when it
starts spreading is that you
feel a lump in your armpit. So
every woman should be able to
do self examination to look for
the pendulousness of the breast.
The nature of the breast then
you should report, he advised
Owing to the rise in breast
cancer patients in Nigeria,
and very limited number of
Radiography machines and
Oncologist and other health
care workers in this department
of medicine to go round the
centres in the country, the only
International Cancer Centre
sited at Lugbe along Airport
Road in the Federal Capital
Territory, is still under locks
and not functioning, with
overgrown weeds surrounding
the multi- million dollar edifice.
Dr. Olusegun who
commented on the edifice said,’’
I don’t know the details but
it could be a private owned
centre so I wouldn’t know
the stage of development. But
what I know is that we are
scare of professionals in these
areas in the country. In areas
of oncologists, it is fair but in
Radiographers who do the
treatment, Physicists who do
the calculation, Engineers, there
is scarcity and so that might be
the reason for holding up any
new centre. So they still have to
draw from here.’’
Instructively analysts are
of the view that government
should act fast in this regard, so
as to save the teeming number
of women, mothers and young
girls daily coming down with
this lethal disease. And also
government could go a step
further by increasing the number
of cancer treatment machines
to WHO recommendation and
also offer financial subsidy to
indigent patients.
persons. It could afflict a market
woman who is the breadwinner,
experts also note.
However, Dr. Olusegun said
that the prevalence is so alarming
that each day about three to four
patients come to the hospital with
advanced stage cancer.’’
For the past 25 years the pattern
has not changed. For various
reasons, like religion, cultural,
finance, education, people get
breast cancer infection. ‘’So due to
these reasons most patients come
at advanced stage when nothing
can be done.’’
Regrettably when patients
come with advanced stage cancer
and die in the hospital, they end
up blaming the patient’s death.
‘’Nobody reports at what stage she
was presented to the hospital. Most
of them report when they are about
to die and this stage doctors are
helpless, the doctor said.’’
Breast cancer can also be caused
by the types of food women
eat. Especially now that it is
fashionable to eat Western foods, a
lot of Nigerian women are hooked
to foreign canned food.
A Dietician at the National
Hospital, Abuja, Mrs Gladys
Nwaka who spoke to Nigerian
Pilot Sunday, confirmed that the
statistics of breast cancer is so
high in Nigeria because of many
factors including wrong eating
habits. According to her, excessive
weight in the body feeds the cancer
cells. Other causes are sedentary
lifestyle and reduced fibre intake
in foods. Women should reduce
the frequency of microwave foods
because of the radiation. Reduce
intake of smoked and grilled fish
because it promotes cancer in the
body. People should remove the
skin of smoked fish because of
casino genes – a deposit from the
smoke from naked fire. People
should reduce intake of barbecued
meat or take it with vegetable and
fresh juice to reduce free radicals of
People should increase intake
of variety of vegetables especially,
coloured because it acts as antioxidants
but should increase intake
of vegetables and fresh fruits.
This eating habit will reduce the
rate of breast cancer in women,
Nwaka said.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the most common
cancer in women worldwide,
with nearly 1.7 million new cases
diagnosed in 2012, second most
common cancer overall. This
represents about 12% of all new
cancer cases and 25% of all cancers
in women.
From the Wikipedia information
on epidemiology, in 2008, breast
cancer caused 458,503 deaths
worldwide. USA has the highest
annual incident rate of breast
cancer. In developing countries
like South America, it is a major
public health issue. In the UK it is
the third most common cause of
deaths , killing 11,600 women in
the same year.
Also Belgium had the highest
rate of breast cancer, followed by
Denmark and France.
Slightly more cases of breast

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