Concerted efforts and better use of vaccine and preventive public health policies are needed in the fight against cancer in the country.
In a statement released on the World Cancer Day yesterday, the Ministry of Health said government sees the Day as an opportunity to continue raising awareness to encourage prevention and early detection by seeking healthcare before it is too late.
The ministry’s call came days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) published a report highlighting that countries need to devise new preventive mechanisms to curb cancer.
The report, released by International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on Monday, showed that in 2012, worldwide cancer cases rose to an estimated 14 million per year and the figure is expected to rise to 22 million annually within the next two decades.
IARC is specialised cancer agency of WHO.
The latest statistics, according to the report, shows that cancer burden is growing at an alarming rate, which calls for urgent implementation of efficient prevention strategies to curb the disease.
Globally, in 2012, the most common cancers diagnosed were those of the lung, breast and large bowel. The most common causes of cancer death were cancers of the lung, liver and stomach.
The report says more than 60 per cent of the world’s total cases occur in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, and these regions account for about 70 per cent of the world’s cancer deaths.
Dr Agnes Binagwaho, the Minister for Health, said the number of deaths caused by cancer was decreasing because of mechanisms introduced by government, citing nationwide mass screening of cancers and treatment, especially cervical cancer.
A major cancer centre was opened at Butaro Hospital in July 2012.
A 2007-2013 Rwanda Biomedial Centre report on cancer epidemiology indicates that 4,615 people were infected with different types of cancers, the most common being breast cancer– constituting 15.8 per cent.
Cervical cancer stood at 15.6 per cent, stomach cancer was 9.1 per cent, and uterine cancer at 5.5 per cent.
The IARC survey found out that costs of the cancer burden were impeding economic development of nations.
It said access to effective and affordable cancer treatment in developing countries, including for childhood cancers, would significantly reduce mortality.
Dr Christopher Wild, director of IARC and co-editor of the report, said the rise of cancer worldwide is a major obstacle to human development and well-being.
“These new figures and projections send a strong signal that immediate action is needed to confront this human disaster, which touches every community worldwide, without exception,” Dr Wild said.
Some of the causes of cancers are smoking, alcohol, radiation both from the sun and scans, air pollution and other environmental factors.