Cancer to become leading cause of death by end of 2016 – Experts

Cancer survivors Thursday rallied Kenyans to go for screening, saying they are living testimonies that early detection is key to combating the disease.

The survivors spoke as Kenyans joined the rest of the world in marking World Cancer Day, with officials outlining plans to improve treatment locally including the setting up of four treatment centres.

Statistics show that Kenyans are generally more aware about the disease, despite this few have been screened, many waiting until they fall ill to get checked.

“Even at the Kenyatta National Hospital people only come when they are in advanced stages…and by then all we can do is manage the disease,” said Dr Kahumbura who practices at the Kenyatta National Hospital.

By the time Rose Achiego was diagnosed with cervical cancer, the disease had advanced to stage 2 B, but she, like most Kenyans, only went for testing when she felt signs of illness.

“I was bleeding everyday so I decided to go for a checkup,” she said.

She was referred to the Kenyatta National Hospital for radiotherapy and chemotherapy but she would have to wait in line for one and a half years to get treatment. In the meantime the cancer was advancing.

An emergency admission would see her pushed to the front of the queue. For 5 weeks, she underwent radio therapy and chemotherapy

“It wasn’t easy getting the required amount of money, especially because I had to do blood tests everyday and they are expensive,” she said.

Rose was declared cancer free in May last year, today she was at the hospital to mark the World Cancer Day, a living testament that local hospitals and doctors can handle the disease.

Only about 200 people however showed up at the event where screening was being conducted at no cost.

“People don’t think they can get the disease,” noted Rose.

Dr Kahumbura added: “It is cheaper and easier on the body, you don’t have to wait until you’re ill.”

During the celebrations in Nyeri, acting Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko outlined plans to make cancer treatment available to more Kenyans.

Cancer is now the third leading cause of death in Kenya. One in every 14 deaths is from cancer, with WHO predicting that by the end of this year, cancer will be the leading cause of death, surpassing HIV, Malaria and TB combined.


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