At least 90 die of cancer daily, report

Cancer survivors hold placards with the word stop during the launch of cervical cancer awareness at Kenyatta National Hospital on January 21, 2018. [Beverlyne Musili/Standard]

At least 90 people are killed by cancer daily, according to a reported tabled in the National Assembly.

The report by National Cancer Institute of Kenya (NCI-K) exposes a glaring shortage of specialists to manage the infected.

“Cancer is estimated to be the third leading cause of deaths in Kenya after infectious and cardiovascular diseases. Globocan 2018 estimates show there are 47,887 new cases in Kenya daily and 32,987 deaths due to cancer annually,” reads the report.

Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso yesterday became the latest casualty of the disease that has become a monster. Her death came barely two days after that of Kibra MP Ken Okoth, who died from colorectal cancer.

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NCI acting Chief Executive Officer Alfred Karagu said the Institute required about 100 staff but only had six.

The institute further expressed frustrations in carrying out its mandate, stating that there were only 35 oncologists in private and public hospitals.

Of the specialists, 15 are medical oncologists, 16 radiation oncologists and four pediatric oncologists. There are additional nine gynae-oncologists.  

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Mr Karagu said this had frustrated their efforts to carry out adequate awareness as part of prevention measures.

The report lists esophagus cancer as a top killer, causing at least 4,351 deaths every year. Of the 4,380 people diagnosed with the disease annually, only 29 survive. 

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At least 2,553 people die of breast cancer annually from 5,985 cases recorded in the country, while cervical cancer causes 3,286 deaths from 5,250 cases recorded.

Prostate cancer is listed as the fourth, causing at least 1,663 deaths every year out of 2,864 cases recorded.

Colo-rectal is also listed to cause 1,466 deaths from 2,316 new cases.

The report further estimates that there are 3,200 new cancer cases among children every year.

Leukemia (17 per cent), Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (15 per cent), Wilm’s tumour (six per cent), brain and nervous system (five per cent) and Nasopharynx (4.5 per cent) are among top common cancers among children.

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The institute has named 11 counties; Nairobi, Kisumu, Meru, Mombasa, Kakamega, Kiambu, Nyeri, Nakuru, Bomet, Embu and Eldoret as having been affected by the leading three cancers. Kisumu, Kakamega, Meru and Nyeri have the highest cases of esophagus cancer.

NCI tabled the report at the backdrop of revelations that it was operating without an office and with no staff to discharge its mandate.

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National AssemblyNCI-KProstate cancerJoyce Laboso