By Jumbwike Sam
Cancer cases at Mbarara Regional Cancer Center have increased by over 150% in the last three years from 400 in 2019/2020 to over 1000 in 2021-2022.
This shocking revelation was made by Mbarara Regional Cancer Center’s Head of Adult Oncology Unit, Dr Sekitene Semei, while making an address at the National Cancer Survivors’ celebrations that were held on 22nd June 2023 in Sheema District.
The top 5 commonest cancers in Western Uganda are Cervical Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Esophagus Cancer, Stomach Cancer and Breast Cancer.
According to the Mbarara Cancer Center report for the 2021-2022 period, Mbarara, Isingiro and Sheema are the leading districts with the highest number of cancer patients in the region.
Mbarara district and Isingiro district have the highest Cervical Cancer and Prostate Cancer rates while Sheema district has the highest number of Esophagus Cancer cases.
According to Dr Sekitene, Stomach Cancer cases are increasingly becoming more pronounced across the entire Ankore region due to dietary lifestyles and treatment options.
“People enjoy Bushera and Eshaabwe, but cold fermentation brings about so many aflatoxins in our bodies that we believe have increased these stomach cancer rates, Dr Sekitene told the crowd that attended the celebrations.
He explained that anti-oxidants are excluded in people’s diets yet they are not consuming the required amounts of vegetables, instead, they intensifying on alcohol consumption.
“Most Stomach Cancer patients first go to health centers to test for ulcers, they get treatment for the ulcers for a year or two and don’t bother to do further tests even when they fail to get healed from the treatment for ulcers, he explained.
He added that most men get prostate complications and opt to go for herbal therapies because herbalists run adverts on regional radio stations with claims that their herbs cure Prostate Cancer.
“By the time they present to the hospital, it is usually late. These last stages have unique complications and you end up spending more money treating cancer. In as much as we do our best to treat patients in stage 4, it is hard for patients to survive,” Dr Sekitene revealed.
Mbarara Regional Cancer Center receives over 100 new Prostate Cancer cases annually. All Prostate Cancer Patients are offered free treatment and they receive Zoladex injections 4 times a year.
Each injection of Zoladex costs around Shs 800,000 on the private market but through collaborations, Uganda Cancer Institute has been able to avail medicines to cancer patients free of charge.