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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Nigerian hospital discovers overlooked aspects in care management

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A multidisciplinary committee in charge of cancer care management at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has said it already identified critical areas in the management of cancer cases that are either “under-explored or underdeveloped” in the country.

The leader of the team who is a radiation oncologist and nuclear physician, Tessy Ahmadu, spoke on the sidelines of a symposium organised by the team in Abuja recently.

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According to Ms Ahmadu, the team is exploring these towards addressing the identified gaps for improved cancer care management in Nigeria.

The symposium was themed: “Closing the Care Gap,” and the organisers said the initiative was aimed at bridging the gaps in the management of cancer patients in the country.

“We are trying to look at where we need to do more as a team that manages cancer. We have realized that some aspects of cancer management are either under-explored or under-developed,” said Ms Ahmadu who has led the committee since it was established three years ago.

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Identified areas

She added that the gaps influenced the discourse around sub-themes of the event.

“We have haematological malignancy and epidemiology in Nigeria. We are also looking at paediatric malignancy [childhood cancer care] and the common presentation in Nigeria,” she added.

The committee, according to her, is also considering “palliative medicines” to address cancer cases in the country effectively.

She said palliative medicines are an important aspect of cancer management in Nigeria because patients usually come in for help during the end stages.

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“Most of the time, 70 per cent of patients come in stage three or four. So we need to do more here,” she said.

Ms Ahmadu also advocated for local cancer research, saying most available research is done outside Africa. She said this is a major reason why there is a need to bridge funding gaps for cancer research.

“We all agree that most of the standard treatment regimens that we use are trials that were done on Whites or Blacks in developed countries, so we need to do research and get data that are specific to our people to be able to explain why our patients may develop cancers at earlier ages compared to developed countries,” Ms Ahmadu explained.

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She added that the team also carried out advocacy to address “policies that drive the management of cancer patients.”

Committee’s responsibilities

The multidisciplinary committee of diverse specialization was launched in 2021 to effectively manage Nigeria’s estimated 116,000 cancer patients and about 70,000 annual mortality.

“We are committed to delivering effective and efficient cancer care through collaborative decision-making on the management of cancer patients and collective evidence-based recommendations for holistic cancer patient management,” she told PREMIUM TIMES, emphasizing the need for diverse specialists to manage cancer patients.

Cancer care in Nigeria

Nigeria loses 72,000 patients to cancer annually, according to Project Pink Blue, a cancer organization engaged in cancer awareness.

Most cancer patients in Nigeria are women. Breast cancer is now the leading cancer death in Nigeria, while liver cancer is the second and prostate cancer is the third.

With about 102,000 new cases yearly, experts fear that figure is set to increase.

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