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Cancer rated 3rd highest killer disease in Kenya: Here are more facts

Kenyans want government to declare cancer a national disaster 

A specialist using a radiology machine

Every Kenyan knows someone who is either a family member, a friend, colleague or neighbor who is suffering from or has been affected by cancer.

The cancer burden is rising globally with the disease linked to more deaths than HIV, TB and Malaria combined.

In Kenya, cancer is the 3rd leading cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases. 

Breast, cervix, oesophagus, prostate and colorectum are the leading types of new cancer cases in both males and females across all ages, with oesophageal cancer being the leading cause of cancer deaths, followed by cervical cancer and then breast cancer.


About 70-80% of cancer patients in Kenya are diagnosed at an advanced disease when it is not amenable to cure; this is part of the justification for developing these screening guidelines. 

Cases of Kenyans diagnosed with cancer

A report by the National Cancer Institute of Kenya (NCI-K) shows that new cases of cancer have increased from 41,000 to at least 47,887 cases annually.

Parliament was given the report which indicated that close to 33,000 people succumb to cancer every year, although this report was not very accurate since most of the data comes from Nairobi and other urbanized areas.


In marginalized areas, experts noted that it was difficult for Kenyans to be diagnosed due to lack of awareness.

If diagnosed with cancer in areas where people can't afford treatment, medics have a hard time treating cancer since treatment is expensive.

There are only 35 oncologists in the country which has frustrated efforts to carry out adequate awareness as part of prevention measures.

Three high profile Kenyans have succumbed to cancer

Kenyans are pressuring the government to declare cancer a national disaster and take swift action to ensure awareness is raised and people are getting diagnosed early enough which increases the chances of curing it.


Three high profile Kenyans have succumbed to cancer in addition to the hundreds of Kenyans who have lost the battle to the disease but their deaths may not be breaking news.

Bob Collymore, Ken Okoth and Dr Joyce Laboso - succumbed to cancer in July. 

Collymore passed on at his home in Kitusuru on July 1 after battling Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). 

He was very open about his diagnosis and even used his platform to raise awareness and call the government to do more for the locals who cannot afford the heavy bills.


30% of cancers are treatable  

Kibra Member of Parliament also succumbed to colorectal cancer on July 26. The legislator also used his voice to raise awareness and he was very candid with his constituents and Kenyans about his treatment.

And before the country could mourn the demise of MP Okoth, Kenya lost one of her brave daughters Governor Joyce Laboso on July 29.

Together with Charity Ngilu of Kitui and Anne Waiguru of Kirinyaga, they made history being elected the first female governors in Kenya.


30% of cancers are curable if detected early; 30% of cancers are treatable with prolonged survival if detected early; 30% of cancer patients can be provided with adequate symptom management and palliative care.


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