Dozens of Nigerians on Saturday marched in Abuja as part of efforts to raise awareness on the menace of cancer diseases in the country.
The march is one of the various yearly activities put in place by a cancer awareness advocacy group, Project Pink Blue.
The walk is targeted towards enlightening people about the diseases called cancer and the benefits of early screening as it would enable early detection of cases and treatments.
The walk was a colourful event as it had in attendance celebrities, bikers, cyclists in full gear, skaters, ladies bearing placards, men and children
Tagged ‘Walk Against Cancer’, the walk is to commemorate the world cancer day.
The World Cancer Day is an international event marked on February 4, to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection and treatment
Medical services were also provided on the side for participants of the walk. Some of the services included tests for breast, cervical and prostate cancers, as well as blood sugar and hepatitis B tests.
The Acting Executive Director, Project Pink Blue, Emeka Nwagbowo, addressing the press after the walk at the Transcorp car park said the walk has become part of the organisation’s effort to make people know about cancer.
Mr Nwagbowo said cancer is one of the diseases which many Nigerians diagnosed of find difficult managing.
He said aside the fact that many of the ailments are diagnosed late, he said most of those diagnosed do not have the financial aid to complete their treatment.
Mr Nwagbowo lamented the high cost of treatment, which has been identified as one of the reasons why most patients on treatment in Nigeria die from the disease.
“Cancer is not a life sentence. Most people are scared of going for screening because they are afraid of the results. They believe the next thing that is going to happen with cancer diagnosis is death, but that is not always the case.
“Also, most of the people who have been diagnosed with the disease in the country are also having a hard time finishing their therapy. The cost of treatment is high and most people cannot afford it. We need the intervention of the government and well-meaning Nigeria to help make treatment accessible and affordable to those who need it,” he said.
Meanwhile, a member of the federal House of Representatives, Ossai Ossai, also called on Nigerians to endeavour to always check their health status at least yearly.
Mr Ossai who also participated in the walk said cancer has become a menace in the country and it is time for the government and everyone to take it as a serious issue.
He said Nigeria needs to have data on the cases reported in the country as this is the only way in which the government can effectively plan and
Mr Ossai thanked Project Pink Blue and all the supporting partners for the advocacy work and raising awareness about the diseases.
Currently sponsoring a cancer bill in the house, Mr Ossai said he understands the problems encountered by patients when seeking treatment for the disease. He said this is the reason he is pushing for a legal framework through which government policies would capture cancer cases and treatments in the country.
“I believe that with a legal framework, international organisations will support this country through this channel in order to eradicate cancer. The Bill is a way of Nigeria keeping data through the cancer centres about the type of cancers common in the country. This can assist the government to make policies to fund those areas.
“I believe that when scientists look at records and the types of cancers that are ravaging our country, we will be able to find a solution because you need to have a data before you can create a policy, and that is what we are trying to do,” he said.
Cancer Awareness Group march to raise awareness on early screening
What is cancer?
Cancer is the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells in the body. It is when cells grow at an uncontrollable way and destroy body tissues.
It can also be described as malignancy and might eventually spread into other tissues, especially if not early diagnosed and treated.
Some cancer types cause rapid cell growth, while others cause cells to grow and divide at a slower rate. There are more than 200 different types of cancers and they can develop anywhere in the body.
Cancer is a non-communicable disease and the second leading cause of death in the world. It has no age limit as it can affect anyone, even newborn. But, survival rates are improving for many types of cancer. This is due to improvements in screening and treatment.
The most common cancers are breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, prostate cancer, colon and rectum cancer, melanoma of the skin, bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, kidney and renal pelvis cancer, endometrial cancer, leukaemia, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, and liver cancer, cervical cancer among others.
Nigeria, as compared to most developing countries, is still lagging behind in cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survival rates.
This is due to many factors such as late detection, misdiagnosis, lack of medical expertise to treat patients, lack of chemotherapy facilities or radiotherapy machines, high cost of cancer management, little financial support from government and low awareness of the disease.
Although there has been no concrete evidence on what causes/triggers the disease, some predisposing factors such as smoking, unhealthy lifestyle, drinking of alcohol, air pollution, exposure to excessive radiation, viruses, genetic/hereditary factors among others have been pointed out.