Historically, cancer has a reputation of being a “disease of civilization”. Cancer is a class of diseases characterized by out-of-control cell growth. Cancer harms the body when altered cells divide uncontrollably to form lumps or masses of tissue called tumors (except in the case of Leukemia where cancer prohibits normal blood function by abnormal cell division in the blood stream).

 

When a tumor successfully spreads to other parts of the body and grows, invading and destroying other healthy tissues, it is said to have metastasized. This process itself is called metastasis, and the result is a serious condition that is very difficult to treat. Cancer is ultimately the result of cells that uncontrollably grow and do not die. Normal cells in the body follow an orderly path of growth, division, and death. Programmed cell death is called apoptosis, and when this process breaks down, cancer begins to form. Unlike regular cells, cancer cells do not experience programmatic death and instead continue to grow and divide. This leads to a mass of abnormal cells that grows out of control.

According to the World Health Organisation, WHO statistics, (Feb.2017), over 100,000 Nigerians are diagnosed with cancer annually, and about 80,000 die from the disease, averaging 219 Nigerians every day or 9 Nigerians every hour, dying from cancer. The Nigerian cancer death ratio of 4 in 5 is one of the worst in the whole world. The data at hand also shows that cervical cancer which is virtually 100 percent preventable kills one Nigerian woman every hour, breast cancer kills 40 Nigerians daily while prostate cancer kills 26 Nigerian men daily. These three common cancers alone, kill 90 Nigerians daily. It is observed that many cancer cases are diagnosed too late. The World Health Organisation, WHO, has called on specialists to pay special attention to early diagnosis of cancer, because most oncological diseases are curable, if discovered early.

Cancer is responsible for almost 1 in 6 deaths globally. The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 14 million people develop cancer every year, and this figure is projected to rise to over 21 million by 2030. These numbers are dismal, particularly when they are not presented side by side with information on how many actually beat the disease.