Cancer Day: Public awareness will increase survival rate – IHVN


By Aluta News

Feb. 9, 2023

The Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN), has said that public awareness of symptoms and risk factors, including lifestyle, could also increase early detection of cancers and thus increase survival rates.

Dr Patrick Dakum, CEO IHVN, said this on Wednesday in Abuja, at the awareness and sensitisation programme to commemorate World Cancer Day 2023.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was organized by the International Research Centre of Excellence (IRCE) at IHVN, in partnership with Medicaid Radio-Diagnostics/Medicaid Cancer Foundation.

Dakum, who was represented by Dr Helen Omuh, Director of Prevention Care and Treatment, IHVN, said that this may be because early symptoms are often vague or nonspecific.

He said that across the globe cancer is a huge concern.

“Estimated five-year cancer prevalence is 233,911 ceases with an estimated 102,000 new cancer cases yearly and over 72,000 deaths yearly.

“Over 70 per cent of cancer deaths are due to poor access to optimal care. This year’s theme, ‘Close the Care Gap’, is in line with IHVN’s mission of ensuring that individuals and communities have equitable access to quality care and treatment.”

Dakum said that about 40 to 50 per cent of the over 374,000 People Living with HIV (PLHIV), supported by the Institute, were women (who have a six-fold risk of developing cervical cancer).

He said they were between the ages of 25 and 49 years and IHVN is scaling up cervical cancer screening among these women.

“Between Oct. 2021 and Sept. 2022, over 17,000 women living with HIV were screened.

“Out of this number, 4 per cent had pre-cancerous lesions that were treated and one per cent with suspected cancer cases were referred for treatment in hospitals.

“IHVN will continue to contribute towards closing the care gap for cancer prevention, care and treatment in the country,” he said.

Dr Adamu Umar, President of the Nigerian Cancer Society (NCS), said that early diagnosis is crucial when it comes to treatment options for less survivable cancers.

“These cancers are currently difficult or impossible to treat at later stages, and the time from diagnosis to death is often brutally short compared to more survivable cancers.”

“The most important thing is for all Nigerians to be aware of the symptoms and to seek medical help at the earliest opportunity if they recognize any of the signs,” he advised.

Umar also called for intense awareness of all forms of cancers, noting that continued awareness creation at the health facilities and communities is necessary.

“The key message is to seek medical help swiftly if you notice anything unusual,” he explained.

Ms Paulette Ibeka, Clinton Health Access Initiative,(CHAI) Programme Manager, made a presentation on the overview of the Cancer Patients Assisted Programme in Nigeria.

Ibeka said that CHAI is expanding the product portfolio in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) essential medicines list.

She said that CHAI will continuously support the programme technically, financially, and in all ways possible to ensure that the country achieves its goal to eradicate all forms of cancer and provide access to high-quality treatment for all Nigerians.

Meanwhile, Dr Victoria Igbinomwanhia, Senior Programme Officer at IHVN, said that the cervical cancer screening programme in IHVN commenced in June 2020 with the training of about 110 Health Care Workers and IHVN staff on screening, using Visual Inspection with acetic acid.

“About 114 facilities across four different States were activated to provide cervical cancer screening for Women Living with HIV (WLHIV) who are not pregnant between the ages of 25 and 49 years.

“The screening is integrated into the ART clinic flow through offering eligible Women Living with HIV (WLHIV) screening services during the waiting time at the clinic,” she said.

Igbinomwanhia said that outreach activities were also carried out at some targeted non-activated facilities and a few were currently being activated.

“All eligible WLHIV who have been screened receive pre- and post-screening counselling and are provided with results thereafter.

“All identified with pre-cancerous lesions are treated with the thermo-ablation machine. Suspected cases of cancers are referred for further management,” she said.

NAN reports that there were over 100 free pap smears, and prostrate tests/exercises conducted at the event.