A study conducted between 2007 and 2013 by Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) indicates that 4,615 people were diagnosed with different types of cancer in the country, the most common being breast cancer which accounted for 15.8 per cent of the cases.
Cervical cancer came close, with 15.6 per cent, while stomach cancer and uterine cancer were at 9 per cent and 5.5 per cent, respectively.
Cancer remains a big threat and efforts to stamp it out will need a policy shift in the way cancer is viewed both by the health professionals and policy makers.
Although some people refer to it as a problem of the affluent, latest trends indicate that cancer is increasingly becoming a problem for all. It’s afflicting the young, old, rich and poor.
Therefore, it is a problem that can affect any one regardless of colour, age, social status or race. Unlike other non-communicable diseases, cancer is one of the hardest diseases to cure on top of being very expensive to treat. It leaves us with the option of keeping off lifestyles that may lead to cancer and early screening. Research has shown that, if detected early, cancer can be cured. We have cases of breast cancer survivors and these have survived largely because they went for early screening and the cancer was diagnosed in its early stages.
Unfortunately, many people seek medical help when the cancer is in advanced stages, making cure almost impossible.
The latest World Health Organisation’s report indicated that developing countries are expected to bear the brunt of a significant increase in new cancer cases over the next 20 years. So we have to prepare for the worst. Government must prioritise cancer and invest more in screening and prevention. Cancer rates in developing countries are made worse by the lack of early detection and access to treatment.