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Treating Cancer Here Without Going Abroad

Cancer is seen as a sure death sentence in Nigeria due to the absence of the requisite hospitals to treat the deadly ailment. Cancer patients have had to be ferried abroad to be treated at great cost. It is against this dire background that we welcome the Lakeshore Cancer Centre (LCC) that has formally launched operations in Victoria Island, Lagos. The new cancer treatment facility is solely designed by a team of global experts on surgical and radiation oncology. The centre serves for high quality prevention and treatment of cancer.

The LCC is affiliated to Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) in Buffalo, New York, United States, the oldest cancer centre in the world. The Nigerian affiliate had been offering skeletal services since July 2014 until its formal opening. The RPCI provides training, education and clinical care oversight and research programmes to the LCC.

According to the Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director at LCC, Dr. Chumy Nwogu, “Cancer kills more people globally than malaria, HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) combined, and disproportionately impacts low to middle income countries like Nigeria.” He explained that the 2012 data of the International Agency for Research on Cancer showed that there were 102,079 new cancer cases every year and 71,571 cancer deaths annually in Nigeria. Dr. Nwogu used the following words to underscore the phenomenon: “This is probably a marked under-estimation as cancer registration is really poor in Nigeria. Over 70 percent of patients die despite the fact that we do not capture all of them. Over 20 percent of people with cancer are still not captured. This is because many patients usually seek alternative treatments, traditional healers or prayer houses. These numbers are predicted to rise dramatically over the next few years.”

An internationally respected Cancer Epidemiologist and Thoracic Surgical Oncologist, Dr. Nwogu reassures Nigerians thus: “The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that onethird of cancers can be prevented, one-third cured and one-third effectively   palliated; hence the great need for education, screening and early detection.” It is through this kind of informed assurance that the new cancer centre can lead Nigerians away from superstition into a complete embrace of modern science and healthcare delivery. This way, the LCC will be committed to providing cancer patients with tools for early detection, diagnosis and consultation with excellent oncologists without having to travel away from loved ones at home.

The ultra-modern centre also launched the Foundation for Cancer Care in West Africa (FCCWA) to provide cancer care for the less-privileged sufferers in Nigeria and across West Africa. In promoting the LCC, Dr. Nwogu makes bold to stress that the treatment for cancer is capital intensive and long term. It goes without telling that most individuals cannot sustain the cost. The Foundation is therefore focused on fostering collaboration with government agencies, corporate organizations, various medical facilities and advocacy groups towards the tackling of the cancer menace. Of course the FCCWA will always welcome and appreciate philanthropic donations for the care of cancer in West Africa.

The Associate Professor of Oncology at the RPCI, Dr. Tracey O’Connor informs that early screening and detection are indispensable in the prevention and management of cancer. According to Dr. O’Connor, “Three cancers – breast, cervical and prostate – claim the highest number of lives in Nigeria. But all of them, if brought to medical attention early in their development, are highly curable. So, basically testing and early detection can hugely reduce fatalities.” She therefore counseled Nigerians to always go for screening, and recommended Human Papilloma-Virus (HPV) vaccine for young girls of 11 and 12 years. “The vaccine is to prevent the human Papilloma-Virus which causes most cervical cancers,” Dr. O’Connor revealed.

The many services provided by LCC include diagnostic imaging services, mammography, pap smear, laboratory services, public education awareness, tissue biopsis, outpatient operative procedures chemotherapy services, and palliative care. The facility also provides minor surgery, oncology consultation, cancer treatment planning as well as outpatient pharmacy. The establishment of the cancer facility in Lagos comes at a time many Nigerians, even celebrities, have lost their lives to treatable cancer. The LCC will go a long way toward stemming these avoidable deaths. The LCC will definitely increase awareness about cancer prevention and treatment, and thereby drastically reduce incidences of preventable cancer deaths.

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