In 2008, the cancer incidents were around 150 cases per every 100,000 of the population per the Cancer Registry. In 2012, it rose to about 200 cases per 100,000 of the population and now its 300 cases per every 100,000 of the population. The estimate indicates that by 2020 there could be 400 cases per every 100,000 of the population. This shows that the disease continues to affect more people despite the efforts put in to curb it down.
Most common types of cancer
Edison Mayanja a doctor notes that cancer is specified according to gender where by women are most affected by; cancer of the cervix caused by a virus called HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), breast cancer which is genetical, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, caused by a HHP8 virus and it affects the skin and makes legs swell, stomach cancer caused by an infection (Helicobacter(bacteria) this is mainly aided by a poor hygiene and lymphoma(Cancer that affects the infection-fighting cells.)
“Men are affected by prostate cancer which is genetical and sometimes because of age, Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), Oesophagus cancer caused by tobacco, liver cancer caused by eating grains affected by mold and lymphoma. Children are affected by Burkett’s lymphoma (attacks the jaw), leukemia which affects the blood, and kidney cancer,” he says.
The biggest problem is that cancer is not just one disease which means you can’t have one way of handling all of them. This makes it hard to fight since every day you get a new case to handle.Dr. Mayanja notes that peoples’ life style today has 90 per cent increased chances of them getting cancer because they feed poorly, don’t engage in physical exercises and the things they drink especially alcohol which affects the liver.
He adds that people are neglecting the natural food which is more nutritious and healthier, opting for junk (fatty foods). He recommends greens, plenty of water and fruits as well as our local African foods if we are to control cancer.
“Lack of awareness among the people whereby they don’t know the signs and symptoms of cancer and most don’t go for regular checkups hence reporting cancer cases late,” he says, adding that this makes even the easiest cancer unmanageable as they are reported in their late stages.
He also explains that myths and beliefs are also a crippling burden to managing cancer because people first go to traditional healers thinking they have been bewitched and fail to report to the hospital for medical examinations. They resort to hospitals when the disease is hard to manage.
What government is doing
Dr. Mayanja says that the government is trying, though more effort has been put in treating communicable diseases like AIDS, Malaria, TB among others. The budget allocated to cancer is still small compared to the mortality associated with it.
The government has vaccinated girls against the Human Papilloma virus and children are vaccinated against Hepatitis B which is great move to curb cancer. However, he advises the government to increase the cancer budget because sometimes there is a lot to do and yet a few funds which slows down the work.
While commemorating the world Cancer day in parliament last year, the Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga called for increased access to cancer services in the country. She noted that cancer acquired the visibility it deserves though accessibility to cancer services stands at just 5%.
She also commended the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) for acquiring and installing the Cobalt-60 Radiotherapy machine which has done much in improving cancer screening and treatment easily.
According the daily monitor of Tuesday December 11 2018, UCI gets 50,000 visits per year for both new and old patients, with international patients contributing 15 per cent, including refugees. Statistics available at UCI indicate that cancer cases were at 4,000 in 2016 and 4,500 in 2017.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) website, Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide with nearly 1 in 6 deaths attributed to cancer. Annually, 8.8 million deaths occur due to cancer with 70% of these occurring in middle and low-income countries. Notably, 30% of deaths from cancer are due to the 5 leading behavioral and dietary risk factors namely: overweight, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and excessive use of alcohol. Tobacco use is the most deadly risk factor for cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer deaths.