Cancer is expensive to treat — Expert

A radiotherapist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Biodun Popoola, speaks to Tope Omogbolagun on the dangers of late detection of cancer

Please describe cancer?

Cancer can be defined as an abnormal growth of cell that is uncontrollable and which has the ability to spread to distant organs.

What are the symptoms that people should look out for?

The general symptoms associated with cancer are weight loss, pain in the affected part of the body, progressive weakness and anaemia i.e. loss of blood.

There are specific symptoms too. In breast cancer, a painless lump will appear but as it grows in size, there will be pain, nipple retraction, bloody discharge from the nipple and then, auxiliary lump will appear. When it advances, it can move to the lungs and the patient will start to cough. When it spreads to the liver, patients will experience abdominal swelling and pain. Pain is also experienced in the bones when the cancer spreads to the bones.

For cervical cancer, there will be inter-menstrual bleeding. That is, patients will start menstruating abnormally. It could come regularly but not at the usual time.

Cervical cancer can also lead to bleeding after sex. As the cancer advances, patients can also have malodorous discharge and when it has risen to the bone, it causes severe bone pain.

In prostate cancer, patients can present symptoms in the form of acute urinary infection, making it difficult for them to pass urine properly. Then when it advances, blood is noticed in the urine and then patients will feel back pain and weakness of the lower limbs.

Prostate cancer can also lead to general weight loss and it is sometimes genetic but not necessarily hereditary.

Which part of the body is most prone to cancer?

All parts of the body are prone to cancer. We have breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and brain cancer. So there is no part of the body that is immune against the disease.

Which of the sexes is easily affected by cancer?

Cancer is not limited to any gender. It affects male and female.

How can it be easily detected?

The best way to detect cancer is periodic screening of the body.  If you have an abnormal feeling on any part of your body especially in the breasts, it is advisable to see a doctor and go through the proper clinical examination.

Which is the most dangerous type of cancer?

All cancer needs serious attention and all of them are very dangerous.

How dangerous is breast cancer in women?

Breast cancer is very dangerous because it is one of the commonest causes of death in women. There is no cure for a full-blown cancer, but if it is detected early, it can be cured.

How true is it that traditional medicine is the best cure for cancer?

I don’t think it is true. Most patients who use traditional medicine later rush to the hospital when it is too late to save their lives. There is no known traditional form of treatment for cancer.

Is there any specialist hospital for cancer treatment in Nigeria?

We have special departments in Nigerian hospitals that specialise in the treatment of cancer. Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, University College Hospital, Ibadan, National Hospital Abuja and Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, have special department that handle cancer cases in Nigeria.

Is cancer treatment available to the poor and middle class persons at subsidised rate in Nigeria?

Cancer treatment is very expensive and that is why it is important to detect it at the early stage. It is the duty of everyone to live a healthy life and take seriously any change in the body.


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