By NBF News

As Nigeria joined the world to mark 2011 Breast Cancer Month, reports available show that cancer cases have increased by 21 per cent in the country. At the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), alone, cancer register revealed that out of every 10 cancer cases, five are breast-related, three are cervix while two are other types of cancer.

Disclosing this during a press briefing to mark the month in Lagos, Mrs. Ebunola Anozie, chief executive officer and national coordinator, Care Organisation Public Enlightenment, (C.O.PE), expressed fear that the statistics alone were enough to make a woman think that getting breast cancer at some point in her life was inevitable.

Anozie warned that as a non communicable disease, cancer was the enemy in our midst that threatened us as no war or man made had ever done.

'At least, we are aware that one out of every 12 women will have breast cancer. A woman choice about the way she lives can help lower the risk of developing breast cancer. Together we are committed to treating, beating and defeating breast cancer that is discriminately ravaging our women if only we can work together.'

As a way forward, Anozie advised that government should be proactive and move beyond willingness and develop as well as implement policies that would promote adoption of healthy lifestyle and ensure adequate training of health professionals.

'Public awareness about cancer should be increased. This should extend not only to the health sector but agriculture, sports, education, women affairs and poverty alleviation, information and industry'.

She further expressed fear that if the bull is not taken by the horns it would have adverse effect on our health programmes in the near future. 'There is need or collaboration and integration in implementing cancer preventive policies'.

Nigeria should have state of the art equipment in our general hospitals where patients can go for treatment, instead of traveling abroad bearing in mind that 99 per cent of Nigerians cannot afford it.

Continuing, she noted that breast cancer is more prevalent in women in developed countries but the mortality rate is higher in developing countries due to late presentation, ignorance, illiteracy, religious beliefs, stigmatization taboos, and fear of the unknown.

'It is rather unfortunate, that the issue of cancer is being relegated to the background which h should not be. I must reiterate that Federal and State Government should act fast before it becomes a time bomb', she warned.

She harped on the role of the media as a useful tool against breast cancer if well harnessed.

Anozie pleaded that we should bear in mind that as a developing country, we do not lack compassion or the resources, but lack the desire to move forward. 'Our objective is to reduce the suffering of patients. It is true that the only thing people can truly get used to is change, and that also hold true for cancer control.