EAC seeks to detect cancers at early stage

Tuesday July 25 2017

Nurses conduct cervical cancer screening for a patient in Soroti, Uganda. PHOTO | FILE

Nurses conduct cervical cancer screening for a patient in Soroti, Uganda. PHOTO | FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

East Africa is making efforts towards early detection of cancer in patients visiting the lower-tier hospitals where access to specialised cancer care remains a challenge.

This is imperative given the increasing number of cancer cases in developing countries, which are expected to surge by 75 per cent worldwide during the next two decades.

Despite this initiative, the region will remain off the pace in the management and treatment of cancer for a while longer until the hospitals put in place systems that ensure the diagnosis is correct and there are trained oncologists and drugs.

Some 600 medical practitioners across East Africa are expected to undergo training in early detection and treatment of cancer as well as handling neurological disorders.

The training, spread over a four-year period starting 2016, is a partnership between the East African Development Bank, the British Council and the Royal College of Physicians.

A fighting chance

Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania have hosted such training on early detection as medical data shows there has been a recorded increase in the number of cancer patients in the region.

Close to 80 per cent of patients only find out they are afflicted by cancer when the disease is in its late stages, and due to such late detection, only 20 out of every 100 cancer patients have a fighting chance of surviving the disease.  

Indeed, because of this, cancer now kills more people than HIV/Aids-related complications, malaria and TB combined, said one of the trainers, Dr Abrahams Omoding of the Uganda Cancer Institute.

There is a rise in the number of cancer cases among East Africa’s estimated 173 million people. The WHO recommends early detection and education to promote early diagnosis and screening to increase the chances for successful treatment.