World Cancer Day, February 4, is celebrated every year throughout the world as a unity against the lifestyle disease, under the tagline #WeCanICan.
The objective of the world cancer day is to save millions of lives by putting massive awareness and social education.
It is noteworthy that cancer causes more deaths than HIV, TB and malaria joined. 70 percent of cancers can be cured if detected early while 30 percent could be managed through comforting precaution.
Kenyan cancer statistics
In Kenya, after infectious and cardiovascular medical conditions, cancer, a non-communicable disease is country’s third killer malignant.
Additionally, 39,000 new cancer cases is reported annually, over 20,000 yearly deaths also occur in the country.
Majority of the population affected by the condition are below the age of 70 years. Seven percent of annual deaths are as a result of cancer.
For women, the leading cancers are breast cancer and cervical cancer; 34 to 25 per 100,000. The men, on the other hand, major cancers are prostate and esophageal; 17 to 9 per 100,000. This is according to Kenyan Network of Cancer Organizations.
The trend negatively changed between 2010 and 2014, where death rate increased from 31 per 100,000 to 33 per 100,000.
Report by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics disclosed an increase of 18 percent of cancer deaths over the last six years; that is 11,995 to 14,175.
Unfortunately, the magnitude of the cancer impact is accelerated by less diagnostic facilities, reduced treatment, increased cost of treatment and rise of poverty level mostly in developing countries including Kenya.
In a bid to create awareness on breast cancer, a group of young passionate Somali girls based in Nairobi have embarked on a motivating and giving-back to the community mission. The campaign dubbed, Let’sGoPink, was first implemented in October 2017.
Through door-to-door campaign, the team of eleven educated women on importance of cancer test through self-examination.
A data in 2013 showed that childhood cancer accounted for 15 percent in the country’s leading health facility, Kenyatta National Hospital.
The report adds that 1 in every 10 children survive the disease compared to developed countries; where 7 in 10 children survive.
While the global concern concentrated on other common diseases such as malaria, HIV and TB, the impact of cancer rose significantly.
In a move to lighten up the situation, in 2017, the Kenyan legislature proposed a bill to amend the Cancer Prevention and Control (Amendment), to introduce e-health and telemedicine in cancer treatment.
Many Kenyans in rural settings are heavily paying the price of less cancer awareness and traditions that disregard existence of cancer.
Sofia Osman, the campaign leader, Let’sGoPink, argues that many women particularly the Somalis, due to unlimited knowledge on the disease, rarely visit oncologist, do self-examination or even undergo mammogram test
Going by Cancer Research UK figure, by 2012 8.2 million people died of cancer while new cases of global cancer stood at 14.1 million.
Furthermore, most common cancers are lung, breast, bowel and prostate cancer.
Although risk factors differed across regions, the most shared are smoking, physical inactivity and obesity.
Others are excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet and overweight. Interestingly, over a billion adults smoke cigarettes, high number jeopardized by the malignant.
In North Eastern Kenya, the most common cancer among the pastoral communities is oesophageal.
It is the role of every living person to make life better through informing others what they know about cancer cause, diagnosis or treatment. Risk mission is the objective of such meaningful cancer day.
The government, through the ministry of health should ensure that facilities are updated and cost of treatment lowered for the low income earners.
Cost of cancer treatment
For instance, a chemotherapy costs between Kshs 10,000 and Kshs 82,000 per session at Kenyatta National Hospital for 6 – 8 sessions. A high figure for families living below the poverty line.
Similarly, in private hospitals the services goes between Kshs 35,000 to Kshs 500,000. The country has four radiology centres based in Nairobi, which doesn’t correlate to ailing population.
Let’s develop a new leaf by avoiding unhealthy behaviour that likely contribute to overwhelming global cancer threats.