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2015 World Cancer Day 7 things you didn't know about Cancer in Nigeria

Through the years, the cancer mortality rate has tripled and with the vastly inadequate health care system in Nigeria, the figures are poised to get even worse.

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play Photo credit: Bella Naija

According to statistics from Cancer Research UK, 14.1 million adults worldwide were diagnosed with cancer in 2012 while 8.2 million people died from it in the same year (4.7 million males and 3.5 million females).

Here in Nigeria, there are about 100,000 new recorded cases of cancer yearly while there are currently about 2 million recorded cases on ground. This is according to Professor Aderemi Ajekigbe of Radiotherapy and Oncology at the College of Medicine, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).

Speaking at the inaugural lecture of the University of Lagos, Ajekigbe further revealed that women are at a higher risk of getting cancer, with more than 40% of cancer cases in Nigeria occurring in females. Topping the list of common cancer cases were breast and cervical cancer.

Through the years, the cancer mortality rate has tripled and with the vastly inadequate health care system in Nigeria, the figures are poised to get even worse. However, the key to fighting cancer is early detection, as such, it is advised that we regularly conduct check-ups.

As the world marks World Cancer day, we run you through a list of key facts about cancer in Nigeria.


  1. Breast and cervical cancer are the commonest forms of cancer in Nigeria and they occur in women.

  2. According to the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP- Nigeria), 30 Nigerian women die every day of breast cancer while one Nigerian woman dies every hour of cervical cancer. Interestingly, breast cancer can be cured if detected early while cervical cancer is preventable.

  3. 14 Nigerian men die daily of prostrate cancer, again this can be cured if detected early enough.

  4. 1 Nigerian dies every hour of liver cancer and 1 Nigerian dies every two hours of colon cancer. Liver cancer can be prevented through vaccination while colon cancer is also preventable.

  5. According to Dr Abia Nzelu, National Coordinator CECP only 1 out of every 5 Nigerians with cancer survives, while in the case of blood cancer, only 1 out of 30 blood cancer patients survive.

  6. Many forms of cancer including breast cancer, cervical cancer, oral cancer and colorectal cancer can be cured if detected early. Diet and lifestyle play a crucial role in causing cancer, thus its important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and also go through regular medical check-ups.

  7. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that 30% if cancer deaths can be prevented by avoiding or modifying key risk factors such as being overweight, unhealthy diet with low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, alcohol use, sexually transmitted HPV-infections, infection by HBV (Hepatitis virus), ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, urban air pollution and indoor smoke from household use of solid fuels.

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