Childhood Cancer
The gold ribbon symbolises childhood cancer which is the cause of death for 80% of Nigerian children who are diagnosed with it.

Centre Lunches Initiative to Tackle Paediatric Cancer

The NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre (NLCC) in Lagos has initiated a Paediatric Radiation Oncology Programme to offer specialised radiation therapy for children with cancer. Dr. Lilian Ekpo, the Centre Director of NLCC, announced the launch during a media tour, highlighting that the programme aims to tackle the increasing cases of cancer in children in sub-Saharan Africa.

Childhood cancer incidence in sub-Saharan Africa is currently estimated at 56 cases per million population, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Projections indicate that by 2050, Africa will contribute to almost 50 per cent of the global childhood cancer burden. Cancer is a leading cause of death for children and adolescents.

According to WHO, the likelihood of surviving a diagnosis of childhood cancer depends on the country in which the child lives: in high-income countries, more than 80 per cent of children with cancer are cured, but in many low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) less than 30 per cent are cured. The reasons for lower survival rates in LMICs include: delay in diagnosis, an inability to obtain an accurate diagnosis, inaccessible therapy, abandonment of treatment, death from toxicity (side effects), and avoidable relapse. Improving access to childhood cancer care, including to essential medicines and technologies, is highly cost effective, feasible and can improve survival in all settings.

Dr. Ekpo explained that these alarming statistics motivated the NLCC team to take a significant step in addressing this issue. “The introduction of the paediatric radiation oncology programme is our response to this urgent need. It recognises that children with cancer require specialised care tailored to their unique medical and emotional needs. This initiative underscores our unwavering dedication to enhancing outcomes and the quality of life for these young patients,” she stated.

Dr. Ekpo described this new medical service as a beacon of hope for children and their families facing the challenging journey of paediatric cancer. The director described the new medical service as a beacon of hope for children and their families who face the challenging journey of pediatric cancer.

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“The project also represents a promise that the centre will make every child and every family who walks through its doors, a promise of hope, a promise of healing, and a promise of unwavering support. We have assembled a dedicated team of experienced radiation oncologists who are not only experts in their field but also compassionate individuals deeply committed to providing the best possible care for our young patients.

“Children are our most precious treasures, and their well-being is a shared responsibility. This programme underscores our dedication to this responsibility. It represents a promise that we make to every child and every family who walks through our doors, a promise of hope, a promise of healing, and a promise of unwavering support. Our journey to this point has been marked by tireless dedication, countless hours of planning, and unwavering determination. Today, as we inaugurate this programme, we do so with immense pride, knowing that it carries the potential to positively impact the lives of countless children and their families,” Ekpo said.

She appreciated the LUTH and NSIA for their commitment to advancing cancer care in Nigeria. During her presentation, a Clinical Radiation Oncologist, Dr Adebayo Joseph, stressed that 40 per cent of Nigerian cancer deaths could be prevented if patients were provided with the information and support they need to adopt healthy lifestyles. According to her, the NLCC offers compassionate and comprehensive care at every stage of the patient’s journey. This is as the centre understands the huge burden that a cancer diagnosis and its subsequent treatment places on the patient and their family.

“Hence, the highly experienced team made of radiation oncologists, medical physicists, radiotherapists, and oncology nurses provide the most feasible route to alleviate the situation by offering affordable, safe and proven treatment options.’’

Also, the Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Wasiu Adeyemo, praised the NLCC’s efforts and contributions of their selfless service to humanity, especially the children with cancer. The CMD said the centre had once again demonstrated exemplary leadership in the treatment of cancer in the country, urging the team to continue thinking out of the box.