‘Nigeria can’t tackle breast cancer epidemic’

By Onche Odeh 


Executive Secretary, Committee for Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), an organisation at the forefront of campaign on cancer prevention, Abia Nzelu, has said Nigeria currently lacks the capacity to tackle the growing incidence of breast cancers, which she said has resulted in more deaths than usual.

Citing recent data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Nzelu said that a woman is diagnosed of breast cancer every 20 minutes in Nigeria and about 40 Nigerian women die of breast cancer daily compared to 30 women daily in the 2010 report.

In an article to mark the October Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), Nzelu stated that, “The incidence of breast cancer rose from 38.7 per cent to 42.2 per cent between 2008 and 2012 with about 35 per cent increase in the number of deaths within the same period. Unfortunately, Nigeria is ill- prepared to tackle this epidemic.”

She also said this gives a reason for men to be more concerned, adding that, “Apart from the fact that breast cancer can directly affect men, every woman with the disease is a man’s beloved wife, mother, sister and daughter.”

Speaking of hope, Nzelu said, “The good news is that most breast cancer deaths are preventable, given the current level of medical knowledge. Countless number of breast cancer survivors can testify to this fact.”

She mentioned Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, as prominent example of  a woman who developed breast cancer at the age of 83 (after being cured of colon cancer at the age of 66), survived breast cancer and died cancer- free at the age of 101.

To improve breast cancer survivorship, Nzelu said it is important to know its risk factors, the signs and symptoms as well as preventive measures.

She said breast cancer is always caused by a genetic abnormality, stating that only five to 10 per cent are  due to an inherited abnormality. The remaining 85- 90 cent, she said are due to genetic abnormalities that result from the “wear and tear” of life in general.

The CECP scribe listed some major non-modifiable risk factors for breast cancer to include gender, age, genetics, family or Personal history of breast cancer, race and menstrual history.

“Of these, the most significant are gender and age,” she said.

Nzelu said previous chest radiation, Lifestyle-related factors such as Diet, Obesity (gross overweight), Smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and not breastfeeding, are risk factors that could be controlled.

“There is no evidence that controversial factors such as antiperspirants, bras, induced abortion and breast implants, increase breast cancer risk, contrary to rumours often being spread by chain emails,” she stated, noting that many people with one or more risk factors may never get breast cancer, while others with few or no known risk factors may get it, in which case he said everyone should be aware of its symptoms as well as preventive measures.

Source : Independent

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