Cancer is detected at a late stage because people delay to go for screening, doctors say.
In an interview with Monitor, Dr David Miti, a medical expert at UMC Victoria Hospital, said the biggest challenge is the lack of effective sensitisation about regular screening, which enables early detection.
According to the cancer institute, more than 70 percent of cancers are detected in stage three and four, which is incurable.
“In most cases, stage one cancers can be removed and the recovery period is a year, it’s after that that a year the patient will be declared cancer free. Stage three and four cancer is beyond cure and remission is impossible, stage four cancer means the cancer is everywhere and what is done is majorly palliative care just to contain/manage the disease.” Dr Miti said.
According to the head of research and training at Uganda Cancer Institute, Dr Nixon Niyonzima, 34,000 new cases are registered every year and 22,000 of those lose the battle majorly because it is detected in stage three and four.
Dr Miti cited high cost of screening at private facilities and the queues at government facilities, which affect regular screening. He also criticised patients that first seek herbal medication and later resort to hospitals after the situation worsens.
The medical officer warned of the increase in breast cancer cases, adding that even those below the age of 30 are susceptible to cancer.
“Most young girls will feel a lump in the breast but keep quiet or ignore it, or feel shy to tell anyone or have it checked out and before you know it has gone from being non-cancerous to being cancerous,” he noted.
He revealed that women that take long to give birth also run a higher risk of getting cancer.
Dr Moses Mpairwe, an oncologist surgeon from the Uganda Cancer Institute, called upon people to be more mindful of lifestyle.
“This involves feeding well, this means having a balanced diet, eating more of greens and vegetables, avoiding processed food, like sausages, carbonated drinks and meats. Keep active, do regular exercises, work out, this helps keep the body in shape, quit smoking and drinking,” he said.
Dr Miti also called upon people to avoid unnecessary radiation such as living near telephone masts and X-rays.
According to the World Health Organisation, cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths, or one in six deaths, in 2018.