Dr. Adisa Oyesegun, the Head, Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology of the National Hospital, Abuja, on Thursday attributed 43 per cent of cancer death to diet, infection and tobacco.
Oyesegun made the assertion in Abuja at the commemoration of the World Cancer Day slated for every February 4 worldwide.
The theme for 2017 is: “I Can, We Can Conquer.”
The oncologist, who listed various types of cancer as breast, cervical, prostrate and colorectal cancers, however, said the disease accounted for more deaths than HIV and Tuberculosis put together.
According to him, other factors that can predispose one to cancer are genetic, obesity, hormonal factors, among others.
Oyesegun said that one third of cancer could be treated when diagnosed earlier.
He said that late presentation, general attitude of the public, lack of awareness, illiteracy, and lack of organised legislated screening scheme were some of the challenges in addressing the disease burden.
The expert said that some patients after being diagnosed of cancer tactically ran away from the treatment centres out of shame or fear of death.
Oyesegun, who described cancer treatment as very expensive, said that the cost of treatment further compounded such problems.
He, however, appealed to the government to prioritise the inclusion of cancer treatment in the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The oncologist said that its inclusion in the scheme would further ameliorate the sufferings of the patients with regard to reduction in the treatment cost.
Oyesegun said: “Cancer is preventable by eating right, avoid alcohol and smoking, engage in regular exercise, screening, vaccination and early presentation.”
The oncologist said that 40 per cent of all cancer cases were preventable.
In his remarks, Dr. Festus Igbinoba, a Consultant Radiation Clinical Oncologist, said the World Cancer Day was set aside to create awareness on its prevalence, sign and symptoms as well as preventive measures.
Igbinoba, who is also the President, Association of Radiotherapist and Clinical Oncologist of Nigeria, said that cancer account for the death of 8.2 million people annually worldwide.
He said that the figure would increase to 14 million in the next 10 years if adequate measures were not adopted by both the general public, clinicians and the government.
Igbinoba described as pathetic the agony some patients were going through in the course of treatment, saying that many of them travelled a far distance, and was more killing than the cancer.
He said that many of such patients might not be able to receive treatment on the appointment day due to the breakdown of chemotherapy machine and other cancer machines.
Igbinoba said: “Attitude and behaviour about cancer are not what should be. Some people choose to reject it while such diagnoses are made, they run away from surgery, chemotherapy.
“State of cancer treatment is still far from the desired. Government must rise up to its responsibilities by ensuring that equipment for cancer treatment is of good quality and standard.
“If cancer treatment is taking as a priority and the money budgeted for is promptly released, we can go a long way in addressing cancer burden.
“Government must also sign maintenance agreement with whichever country is supplying such equipment to ensure prompt response in an event of any breakdown.”