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The kind of cancers in Nigeria are the very aggressive types –Radiologist - Yara.ng
Home Health & Food The kind of cancers in Nigeria are the very aggressive types –Radiologist

The kind of cancers in Nigeria are the very aggressive types –Radiologist

by James Davies


Angela Onwuzoo

Consultant Radiologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Dr. Caleb Yakubu, says the kind of cancers that physicians see in Nigeria are the very aggressive types.

He noted that Africa is now witnessing a rise in cases of colon cancer following increased consumption of refined carbohydrates among its population.

Yakubu said that exposure to injurious substances and the adoption of unhealthy lifestyle predispose people to cancer.

The radiologist, who is the coordinator, One Stop Breast Clinic, LUTH, told PUNCH HealthWise in an interview that in the past, Africans do not come down with colon cancer because they fed mainly on their local foods that were nutrient-dense.

“Before now, Africans don’t usually have colon cancer. But now, it is common among us because we are now eating refined foods instead of our local foods that are high in fibre  vegetables.

“People are now going for refined carbohydrates. The implications is that when you eat all those refined carbohydrates, the transit time is longer and the chemical composition has a longer time to act on the body.

“But when you eat all those foods that have high fibre, the waste materials are easily moved out of the body. So, the transit time is shorter,” Dr. Yakubu said.

The American Cancer Society and the International Agency for Research on Cancer say that colon cancer is the fifth most common malignancy in Africa.

Yakubu noted that any organ of the body could become cancerous; adding that environmental factors and genetic composition make cancers in Nigeria and Africa more aggressive.

He said cancers are difficult to treat in Nigeria because majority of the patients present late at the hospital and that the treatment is also very expensive.

“The kind of cancers we have in Nigeria and Africa are the very aggressive types. Many people don’t believe that cancer is real. They believe that it is caused by spiritual attack. Poor awareness also is contributing to the problem and makes cancer difficult to treat in this part of the world coupled with lack of screening”, he said.

The World Health Organisation Regional Office for Africa says the rise in the number of cases of cancer in the region is due to ageing populations and the increasing adoption of risk behaviour such as consumption of unhealthy diets, lack of physical exercise, harmful use of alcohol and tobacco use.

“In the African Region, infections due to human papillomavirus and hepatitis B and C viruses significantly contribute to the burden of the top two cancers, namely cervical and liver cancer respectively.

“Many lives can be saved if appropriate investment is made in raising public awareness on the early signs and symptoms of common cancers. In addition people should adopt healthy lifestyles that reduce the risk of cancers”, WHO-AFRO says.

Yakubu further said people on the continent were at risk of cancer due to their regular exposure to the predisposing factors.

“People who work in chemical companies that use aniline dye have the tendency to develop cancer of the bladder. Exposure to injurious substances predispose people to cancers.

“Exposure to radiation also predispose people to cancer. Children who are exposed to radiations like x-rays and others while they were younger are prone to having cancer of the blood (Lukemia).

“Some of them too may have cancer of the bone. So, cancer is common because of the predisposing factors”, he explained.

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