A Clinical consultant and radiation oncologist, Dr. Adewumi Alabi has called for more clinical research to improve cancer care, treatment, and survival rates for patients.
Alabi, who works at the NSIA/Lagos University Teaching Hospital Cancer Centre, made the call during a virtual meeting organized by Pfizer in commemoration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Breast Cancer Awareness is celebrated annually in October to create intensive awareness of the effect of breast cancer; causes, treatment, and cure are funded for deeper research.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report that the most common breast cancer diagnosed globally in 2020 was found in women.
The report stated that over 2.26 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer, and 685,000 women died from the disease.
They said that more clinical research was needed in breast cancer to improve treatment outcomes and reduce cancer burden; morbidity, and mortality among patients.
However, they said “In clinical research, we need to understand the tumor biology, that is to understand the language the breast is speaking because the breast speaks different languages for different people.
“There is what we call heterogeneity in breast cancer, which makes us understand that we have to study each individual to arrive at a prognosis for that individual.
“This will guide our treatment for that individual as a treatment for woman A is different from woman B.”
According to the Agency, personalized study and prognosis of patients would lead to better treatment and survival rates, longevity, and reduce chances of disease recurrence.
Meanwhile, inadequate funding of research, infrastructure, specialty, and collaboration were some of the challenges that hinder cancer care in the country.
Also, the Head of the Medical Centre for Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital Ghana, Prof. Joel Yarney, said breast cancer was becoming an increasing public health issue in Africa due to increasing diagnoses.
Yarney explained that early detection was critical to better health outcomes and survival rates, stressing the need for regular self-check and screenings.
He stressed that timely access, affordable treatment options, and expansion of resources and programs would address current disparities in breast cancer care.
In addition, Medical Director East & Anglo West Africa Pfizer, Dr. Kodjo Soroh, said the company partnered with health experts and the media to create awareness of breast cancer as well as support breast cancer patients.
Soroh said that Pfizer has a program where it makes cancer medicine available at half the cost to bridge the affordability gap in Nigeria and Ghana.
Furthermore, he said “For Pfizer breast cancer awareness is more than one month in a year. It is an opportunity for us to reaffirm our commitment to improving the lives of people living with breast cancer.
“These we do through affordable treatment and removing barriers to equitable care”
He noted that Pfizer had signed an agreement with National Health Insurance Act (NHIA) to enlist an antimicrobial resistance drug-free for patients enrolled in the country’s health insurance.
Soroh added that Pfizer was also planning to introduce free cancer drugs for patients through health insurance before the end of the year to enhance access to quality medicine.