Prof. Bissallah Ekele, Chief Medical Director, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), on Saturday called on Nigerians to ensure regular screening for cancer-related symptoms to ease early detection, prevention and treatment.
Ekele spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in Gwagwalada, shortly after the foundation laying ceremony of the Paediatrics Oncology Ward being built by wives of governors in the 36 states of the federation.
According to him, cancer deaths in Nigeria are very high, with four out of five cancer patients dying within five years of being diagnosed due to late presentation.
He said that late presentation of most cancer cases in the hospitals had remained the major challenge in the treatment and management of the disease.
“Cancer is a big challenge the world over; most of the patients come in very late for treatment and one sees them in pains both financially and emotionally.
“Whenever we have any group of individuals coming in to support them as the First Ladies have done, we feel very excited and we look forward to having more interface with such organisations.
“Early detection is one of the strategies in cancer management since it is difficult to treat when they reach advanced stages. One of the strategies is to ensure that all prevention avenues are explored,” he said.
The professor added that the inability of cancer patients to afford treatment was largely responsible for the rising number of fatalities from the disease.
The CMD advised Nigerians to always seek relevant health information as that was crucial to having a healthy lifestyle.
The professor decried the general lack of interest in voluntary health check-up in the country, saying that the situation had often worsened otherwise minor health challenges.
“People should present themselves regularly for screening. That will go a long way in reducing the cost of management.
“So my advice is that we must all get close to health facilities, our doctors, physicians, nurses, and follow guidelines available for preventing cancer cases,” he said.