Nigerian Breast Cancer Patients Get An Amazing Boost, To Recieve Millions Of Naira Worth Of Treatment For Free
By Iwedi Ojinmah 18 days ago
Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women and the leading cause of cancer death in Nigeria, with an estimated 26,310 new cases and 11,564 deaths in 2018 said World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
Breast cancer incidence has been historically low in Nigeria, however, it is increasing now. In comparison to some Western countries, more people are diagnosed with breast cancer in Europe and America, however, breast cancer deaths in those countries are lower when compared with Nigeria and in sub-Sahara Africa.
This is attributed to the absence of organized screenings, poverty, poor treatment and access to cancer medicine. There is a need for intentional action to increase better cancer treatment in Nigeria and African countries.
There are many subtypes of breast cancer, such as hormone receptor-positive, HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) positive, and triple-negative breast cancer. In Nigeria, many women are diagnosed with these subtypes of breast cancer, out of the three sub-types, HER 2 positive is the most expensive to treat but ironically it’s outcome is always good if the right drugs are used
To treat HER2 positive breast cancer, oncologists (that is, cancer doctors) usually recommend that patients with such cancer are treated with modern targeted therapy known as Herceptin. One course of Herceptin costs about N309, 000 and in most cases a woman is expected to take 18 courses. In total, it could cost over N5,562,000 for a woman to get treated from HER2 positive breast cancer.
Through the ARETTA study, Nigerian women who are newly diagnosed with HER-2 positive breast cancer will receive Herceptin SC free of charge, courtesy of Roche Pharmaceuticals, University of Chicago and other partners.
Professor Olufunmilayo I. Olopade (above) , a famous Nigerian oncologist, 2005 MacArthur Fellow, and professor at The University of Chicago Medicine is the leader of the study known as ARETTA- Assessing Response to neoadjuvant Taxotere and TrAstuzumab in Nigeria women with HER2-positive breast cancer.
According to Prof. Olopade “We are doing the study because we want to be in solidarity with women in Nigeria. Nigeria needs to build the capacity of Cancer Specialists to treat cancer in Nigeria, not in India or any country outside Nigeria. Our Government must act in the interest of Nigerians to reduce costs and provide affordable quality care to cancer patients.
"Without universal health insurance and coverage for a catastrophic illness that is treatable and preventable like cancer, the average Nigerian cannot afford health care. Nigerian doctors can save more lives but the Government needs to develop a health system that works for ALL Nigerians not only the rich who can leave the country to get care”
“The study is open only to women who have newly diagnosed breast cancer that has not spread beyond the breast. Very important that women do not delay getting diagnosed and treated”
“This is the first time a study like this is happening in Nigeria, and we are delighted to provide this relatively expensive drug – Herceptin SC free of charge to eligible Nigerian women,” said Professor Olopade.
“In 2015, it took us over 1 year to raise N9 million needed to purchase Herceptin for one 35-year-old indigent breast cancer patient who approached us for funding for her treatment. Today, through Prof. Olopade’s efforts, Nigerian women will get this same cancer medicine free. This is commendable. I encourage women across the country to key-in and benefit from this” – concluded Runcie C.W. Chidebe, Executive Director, Project PINK BLUE.
To benefit/for more information, visit Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Ibadan or Email: [email protected]