ABUJA, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- A total of 41,000 Nigerians were killed by cancer in 2018, out of an estimated 166,000 cases recorded in the country, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.
WHO's health emergency team lead in Nigeria, Clement Peter, made the disclosure here at a seminar in commemoration of the "2019 World Cancer Day," which is observed annually on Feb. 4.
The theme for this year's World Cancer Day is "I am and I will."
"From our record, in 2018, we recorded an estimated 166,000 cases of the cancer burden in Nigeria and 41,000 deaths," Peter said at the seminar attended by Nigerian officials, medical practitioners, and some cancer patients.
Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. There are more than 100 types of cancer.
Its key drivers in Nigeria and most African countries are tobacco use, alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyle, polluted environments, and unhealthy diets, according to experts.
Nigeria might continue to experience a rise in the scourge if stringent measures were not taken by the government, local communities and individuals toward addressing the key drivers of the disease, Peter said.
Globally, 14 million new cases and 8.2 million deaths were recorded in 2012, while 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths were recorded in 2018, according to WHO's data.
With this trend, the cancer burden in Africa is projected to double from 1,055,172 new cases in 2018 to 2,123,245 cancer cases by 2040, WHO said.
In Nigeria, the most prevalent types of cancer are breast cancer, cervical cancer, and prostate cancer. In addition to the aforementioned are blood cancers like multiple myeloma and leukemia.
Peter identified late and poor diagnosis, lack of medical cover and poverty as some of the leading challenges for cancer patients in Nigeria and most African countries.
The disease could be prevented, he noted, and the burden reduced -- through healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating proper and healthy diets, engaging in appropriate exercises and ensuring routine medical check at all times.
"Sadly, most cancer patients in Africa are diagnosed at a late stage and the prognosis for a positive outcome is lessened even in cases where treatment is available and affordable," he said.
Thomas Anyanwu, an oncologist in Nigeria's economic hub Lagos, told Xinhua that Nigeria needed to do more to improve its poor standard of cancer equipment, referring to some machines used in investigating cancer like state-of-the-art Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans, bone scans, and even high-quality Computed Tomography (CT) scanners.
"Cancer is scary and demands proper attention in Nigeria. It is usually a death sentence in the country, and anyone can be affected," Anyanwu said.