Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Globally, 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer. Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervical and thyroid cancer are the most common among women.
The cancer burden continues to grow globally, exerting tremendous physical, emotional and financial strain on individuals, families, communities and health systems. Many health systems in low- and middle-income countries are least prepared to manage this burden, and large numbers of cancer patients globally do not have access to timely quality diagnosis and treatment. The consequence is avoidable suffering and deaths from cancer. However, in countries where health systems are strong, survival rates of many types of cancers are improving thanks to accessible early detection, quality treatment and survivorship care.
Cancer, when identified early, is more likely to respond to effective treatment, resulting in a greater probability of surviving as well as less morbid and less expensive treatment. The value of detecting cancer early is clear, and significant improvements can be made in the lives of cancer patients. This minimizes on the costs that is likely to be incurred in treatment. Although most of the cancer patients in the rural areas do not have sufficient information on early diagnosis of this disease due lack proper public awareness program to enlighten the public on the importance of it. The treatment of cancer involves huge amount of money to the families of the patient when diagnosis was done late.
Patients who presented late often lived in rural areas with fewer amenities (such as having no electricity in their homes), less education, and poor understanding of cancer infections e.g Breast Cancer (BC). Pictorial information about BC needs to be introduced to people who live in rural communities, and opportunistic screening needs to be provided at local clinics so as the affected group/communities can have opportunity to access early screening and hence early treatment in order to reduce the cancer death rate in rural areas. Also, most people rural areas still believe that cancer is a witch craft which contributes to late presentation of cancer patient for treatment.
Public awareness on the importance of having cancer screening needs to be sensitized to the public by all the involved parties since some people usually fail to attend cancer screening sponsored by private entities for fear of unknown and being told news of having the disease. Also, to be sensitized on the importance of having early cancer screening and its cost benefits on treatment.
By Douglas Wachia Mulogoli.