The latest statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia’s wing dealing with cancer related data – the Namibia National Cancer Registry – indicates a 29 percent increase in recorded cancer cases over the past five years.
Breast cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in Namibia, with 479 new cases reported in 2014, while 289 were recorded in 2010.
This information forms part of the soon-to-be-published ‘Cancer incidences in Namibia’ report,which the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) will publish towards the end of 2016 and also present to the Ministry of Health and Social Services. The document will contain data pertaining to comprehensively recorded cancer diagnoses in Namibia spanning 2010 to 2014.
Christy Kavetuna, a nurse at CAN, attributes the increase to the possibility that through effective education and campaigning, more women are now aware of their own health than in the past.
“This means that we have earlier detection and higher reported treatment cases as well,” added Kavetuna.
Second on the list of highest recorded cancer types in the country is skin cancer with 430 newly recorded cases in 2014, versus 472 in 2010; 423 in 2011; 425 in 2012 and 350 in 2013.
For the previous four years, the most prevalent form of cancer in Namibia was skin cancer. However, breast cancer in both women and men is now in first position, according to CAN.
“Skin cancer affects all Namibians and we must be very careful not to stigmatise this form of cancer as only associated with fairer skin types (albino persons included as they are very prone to skin cancer due to pigmentation),” said Rolf Hansen, the chief executive officer of CAN.
Furthermore, the pandemic of cervical cancer is rearing its head at an alarming rate in Namibia, with 1 140 newly recorded cases over the past five years.
There has been a sharp rise of cervical cancer from 213 registered cases in 2010, to 292 new cases in 2014.
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventative forms of cancer worldwide, and can be prevented with effectiveness of up to 80% of the time through regular screening (Pap smears), committing to safe sexual practices especially and HPV (human papillomavirus) injections, said Hansen.
This form of cancer is predominantly caused by HPV that is a sexually transmitted viral infection of which the male penis is the primary carrier, he added.
“Early sexual activity, too early or too late pregnancies and birth in addition to medically difficult birthing also plays a role in cervical cancer,” he said.
With men, prostate cancer remains a serious concern.
In 2014, 271 new cases of prostate cancer were reported, while the 2010 record indicated 216 newly reported cases.
“The biggest obstacle faced by the Namibia National Cancer Registry is the completeness and correctness of data received to analyse.
“At current, most cases are recorded through the assistance of the Dr AB May Cancer Care Centre at Windhoek Central Hospital and several private stakeholders additionally,” said Hansen.
The challenge, he said, to obtain sufficient and complete data remains a core obstacle, as the willingness and concerns of cancer patients, medical practitioners and laboratories processing patient records due to confidentiality, impact this process.
“We look forward to working with the Ministry of Health and Social Services to formulate a workable plan that would make cancer a reportable disease in Namibia,” added Hansen.