cancer NSIA LUTH NLCC Brachytherapy
Nigeria has only two functional 3D Brachytherapy treatment centres which only few can access.

NLCC: Nigeria Lacks Enough Brachytherapy Treatment Centres

Although Nigeria has advanced in regards to modern and effective cancer care, very few cancer patients in the country receive access to brachytherapy treatment, as the country has only two functional 3D Brachytherapy treatment centres.

Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy in which seeds, ribbons, or capsules that contain a radiation source are placed in the body, in or near a cancerous tumour. It is a local treatment that treats only a specific part of the body.

In view of this, the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority – Lagos University Teaching Hospital, (NSIA-LUTH) Cancer Centre (NLCC), held its maiden Brachytherapy summit to address challenges faced by cancer patients even as they proposed novel strategies to improve cancer treatment in Nigeria.

At the Summit held in Lagos with the theme: “Innovative Approaches to Improving Brachytherapy Practices in Nigeria.”, health professionals from various fields called for improved brachytherapy practices in Nigeria.

The Centre Director, NLCC, Dr Lilian Ekpo, explained that brachytherapy is a critical component of cancer treatment, and very imperative that practitioners in the country continuously strive to enhance their practices in order to stay abreast with the latest developments in the field.

Ekpo said practitioners must embrace innovation and adopt new approaches to ensure patients receive the best possible care.

She explained that it is a key modern treatment for cervical cancer adding that cervical cancer is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in Nigerian women.

Ekpo said at NSIA – LUTH, about 50 to 60 patients are seen weekly even as 40 percent to 50 percent of the cases are breast cancer which is becoming an epidemic in the country.

She noted that the disease is killing Nigerian women because a lot of the time patients do present early.

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Earlier, the CEO of NSIA Healthcare Development and Investment Company, Dr Tolu Adewole who acknowledged the inadequacy of treatment machines like linear accelerators, noted that WHO stated that for every one million people, there must be one linear accelerator in a country.

He said Nigeria, with a population of 200 million does not have up to 15 machines. Adewole added that plans are underway by NSIA to build 23 diagnostic centres, which is four in each geopolitical zone to ensure that Nigerians can access cancer treatment.

He said NSIA has concluded plans to build three new cancer centres in Enugu, Kaduna and Abuja, in addition to the one in Kano and Umuahia.

The Consultant Radiation and Clinical Oncologist & Head of the Brachytherapy Unit, NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre, Dr Bolanle Adegboyega, called for improved technology in brachytherapy treatment as it has been proven to eliminate cancer in Nigeria.

“If you are able to do brachytherapy it shows that our chances of getting most of the cancer cures is higher. Now patients are coming in early, we should be able to be equipped enough to treat and get many cured as much as possible.”

She noted that while there are six centres in the country that offer brachytherapy treatment, only the NISA-LUTH centre in Lagos has the advanced technology, while other states still lag behind.

“We have more radiotherapy than brachytherapy, the present technology we are using is still not the peak of it, and is only available in Lagos. The other states’ technology is still far back. It shows that accessibility is still poor.

“There are parts of Brachytherapy MRI-based treatment which we still need to go higher than what we are doing now, which is CT scan-based treatment, but MRI is advanced treatment. Whereas others in the country are still on just x-ray level.”