Go for cancer screening to increase treatment chances

A woman undergoes breast cancer screening in Kampala in 2019. Photo | File

What you need to know:

  • The issue: Cancer screening. 
  • Our view: It is our appeal to the public to constantly screen for cancer as often as recommended by the experts since cancer can be treated if detected early.

While releasing statistics on cancer patients in Uganda this week, Dr Jackson Orem, the executive director of Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI), reiterated the need for people to go for cancer screening if the country is to reduce its 80 percent mortality.

At the Africa Cancer Test and Treat Initiative conference, organised by the Ministry of Health in partnership with Nation Media Group, Uganda Cancer Institute and Uganda Cancer Society, among others, Dr Orem said at least 54.6 percent of all cancer patients in Uganda come from the central region. This, Dr Orem said, is followed by the mid-northern region with 33.4 percent. 

Kigezi Sub-region in western Uganda is in third position with 31.62 percent, Busoga in eastern has 30.1 percent, Ankole Sub-region has 29.17 percent), Rwenzori (25.04 percent), Teso (21.07 percent), Bugisu (13.07 percent), West Nile (11.04 percent) and Karamoja with 8.68 percent.

Cancer is the leading cause of morbidity in the country with breast and prostate cancers being the most common, causing experts to worry that the trend could get worse. 

The most risk factors of cancer in Uganda include infections, genetic and aging, and lifestyle.
Many initiatives have come up and a lot of money from government, development partners and well-wishers has been poured into combating the disease. 

Despite challenges facing the sector, a lot of improvement has been witnessed in areas such acquiring of modern cancer machines, planning for regional centres, and increased funding. 

But all these shinny buildings and machines mean nothing if people show up when they are in advanced stages of cancer.

While speaking at the function, Health minister Jane Aceng advocated for prevention and encouraged people to go for cancer screening, saying about 50 percent of cancers can be prevented.

UCI experts say cancer can be treated when diagnosed at an early stage, but the challenge is that more than 80 percent of the patients with cancer present go to the institute when the disease is in an advanced stage, which becomes difficult to cure.

One does not have to wait for symptoms to manifest before taking a cancer test. 
For example, cervical cancer – among the most common type of cancer in Uganda – does not present any visual and physical symptoms like other cancers in its earliest stages of development. 

Its symptoms start manifesting when it has spread to other tissues, making it difficult to contain.
It is our appeal, therefore, to the public to constantly screen for cancer as often as recommended by the experts since cancer can be treated if detected early.


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