Cancer is one of the major non-communicable diseases, responsible for an estimated 18 million new cases and 9.5 million deaths globally. The number of new cancer cases is on the increase and is expected to rise by over 70% in the next two decades unless deliberate prevention and control efforts are put in place.
In Kenya, cancer is a major public health concern with significant social and economic implications in terms of health care needs, lost productivity and premature deaths. It ranks as the third leading cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases and accounts for 7% of annual deaths. An estimated 47,887 new cases and 32,987 cancer deaths occur each year. This is translated to 133 new cases and 90 deaths per day. Majority of cancer patients are diagnosed at late stages for a number of reasons including low level of awareness of cancer amongst the public.
Thanks to advances in cancer prevention, early detection, treatment, and follow-up care, more people than ever before are surviving the disease. However, surviving cancer can leave a host of problems in its wake. Physical, emotional, and financial hardships often persist for years after diagnosis and treatment. Cancer survivors are also at greater risk for developing second cancers and other health conditions.
Cancer survivors may face numerous challenges during and after treatment:
Limited access to cancer specialists and promising new treatments
Denial of health insurance and life insurance coverage
Difficulty finding jobs
Economic burdens due to mounting medical expenses, lost wages, and reduced productivity
Add to those emotional struggles, strains on personal relationships, and the profound fear of cancer recurrence. The effects of cancer don’t simply end when treatment does.
The Cancer Awareness Centre of Kenya (CACK) believes that more resources, research, and survivor-friendly legislation are needed to improve the quality of life of cancer survivors – during and after treatment. We urge everyone who participates in National Cancer Survivors Day celebrations to not only recognize those who are living with a history of cancer but also raise awareness of the hardships cancer survivors face beyond treatment.
The Cancer Awareness Centre of Kenya encourages a greater commitment to resolving the issues of cancer survivorship through public education and awareness.