As Nigeria marks the 2017 World Cancer Day today, a new World Health Organisation, WHO, report shows that at least 80, 000 Nigerians die yearly from cancer due to late diagnosis.
Also, a new WHO figure released this week indicates that each year 8.8 million people die from cancer, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, because many cancer cases are diagnosed too late.
WHO says that the situation was not different even in countries with optimal health systems and services, many cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat successfully.
In a new WHO guidance launched , “Guide to cancer early diagnosis’’ ahead of World Cancer Day aims to improve the chances of survival for people living with cancer by ensuring that health services can focus on diagnosing and treating the disease earlier and it says that all countries can take steps to improve early diagnosis of cancer.
Dr Etienne Krug, Director of WHO’s Department for the Management of Non-communicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention said,
“Diagnosing cancer in late stages, and the inability to provide treatment, condemns many people to unnecessary suffering and early death, adding that “By taking the steps to implement WHO’s new guidance, healthcare planners can improve early diagnosis of cancer and ensure prompt treatment, especially for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers.
‘’This will result in more people surviving cancer. It will also be less expensive to treat and cure cancer patients.”
Meanwhile, WHO report showed that in 2010, the total annual economic cost of cancer through healthcare expenditure and loss of productivity was estimated at US$ 1.16 trillion.
The agency admonished that strategies to improve early diagnosis can be readily built into health systems at a low cost. In turn, effective early diagnosis can help detect cancer in patients at an earlier stage, enabling treatment that is generally more effective, less complex, and less expensive.
The report further revealed that studies in high-income countries have shown that treatment for cancer patients who have been diagnosed early are 2 to 4 times less expensive compared to treating people diagnosed with cancer at more advanced stages.
Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO Assistant Director-General for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health, said, “Accelerated government action to strengthen cancer early diagnosis is key to meet global health and development goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.”
Cancer is now responsible for almost 1 in 6 deaths globally. More than 14 million people develop cancer every year, and this figure is projected to rise to over 21 million by 2030. Progress on strengthening early cancer diagnosis and providing basic treatment for all can help countries meet national targets tied to the SDGs.
The World Cancer Day is marked globally on February 4, in a breakdown of the available data, in 2008, breast cancer killed 30 Nigerian women daily; by 2012 this had risen to 40 women daily. “In 2008, prostate cancer killed 14 Nigerian men daily; by 2012 this had risen to 26 men daily. In 2008 liver cancer killed 24 Nigerians daily; by 2012, this had risen to 32 daily.”
According to WHO, Cancer is a leading cause of death around the world and it stresses the need to work on effective control measures.
The World Cancer Day is part of the World Cancer Campaign, which responds to the Charter of Paris adopted at the World Summit against Cancer for the New Millennium on Feb. 4, 2000.
It called for strong alliance between researchers, healthcare professionals, patients, governments, industry partners and the media to fight cancer.
The Charter of Paris designated Feb. 4 each year as World Cancer Day.
The theme for the 2017 World Cancer Day is “We can, I can.’’

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