Oncologist tasks FG on integrating cancer screening with ante-natal services

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A Radiotherapy Oncologist has appealed for the integration of cervical cancer screening with ante-natal services and NYSC enrolment, to ensure early detection and treatment.

Dr Shehu Umar, Senior Registrar, Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH) Zaria, made the appeal in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Zaria, on Thursday.

Umar said that the government should create programmes and policies that would ensure that Nigerians go for regular cancer screening, to guarantee early detection, treatment, and cure.

He said that besides cervical cancer screening during ante-natal services, government should also enact policies that would mandate women to present cervical cancer test results before enrolment into NYSC or getting employed.

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Umar noted that cervical cancer was one of the top-placed cancers in the developed countries in the last 30 years, but with effective population screening, its incidence had reduced drastically.

“We are optimistic that if the government could implement this population screening, the incidence of cervical cancer would drastically reduce in Nigeria.

“This, among other interventions, would save many women from coming up with cervical cancer.

“A woman aged 35 years and above, is also at risk of breast cancer; she should, therefore, be made to undergo regular mammography screening, in addition to teaching her how to do self and clinical breast examination.

“In cases of colorectal cancer, once a person reaches 45 years, he should be taught on how to conduct regular stool testing and coloscopy at the age of 50 years, to detect some changes that may lead to cancer.

“These and other preventive measures would reduce and crash cancer cases and incidence of late presentation of cases to oncologists in Nigeria, only if the government could focus its attention on them,’’ he said.

Umar lamented that most of these measures were not taken, hence, the late presentation of cases where it takes a lot of efforts to manage patients.

Similarly, he also lamented the lack of adequate public health facilities for cancer treatment across the country, in addition to low enrolment of cancer patients in National or States’ Health Insurance schemes.

He added that the schemes did not provide cover for a full oncology service to the few cancer patients that were enrolled.

Umar, therefore, urged the federal and state governments to leverage on the health insurance schemes to provide cover for full oncology services for those patients, so as to reduce the ”catastrophic out of pocket expenses”, for such treatments.

He said that the common cancer cases received at ABUTH as one of the National Oncology Centre’s of Excellence, were breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate and colorectal cancer, and a few other different cases.

Umar further lamented the late presentation of cases at the facility, stressing that over 90 per cent of the patients that come to the hospital, come at a level when eradication of the tumour were not practically possible. (NAN)

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