THE Health and Child Care ministry has urged government and industry to promote healthy life choices by reducing trans-fatty acids, oils and salts in manufacturing food to avert cancers.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Health and Child Care secretary Gerald Gwinji on Monday appeared before the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Gender, where he said some of the causes of cancers included consumption of unhealthy foods, lack of exercise, tobacco use and alcohol consumption.
“In addition, exposure to some chemicals like organic insolvents, some pesticides and asbestos can cause cancers,” he said.
“There are more than 200 types of cancers and families and communities must practice, promote and support safer sex practices for the prevention of cancer of the mouth of the womb, liver cancer due to human papillomavirus (HVPV), HIV and sexually transmitted infections, which are risk factors for some cancers.”
The five leading cancers in Zimbabwe were cervical cancer (affecting women), Kaposi’s sarcoma (affecting both sexes), prostate cancer (affecting men only), breast cancer (affecting both sexes) and Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-melanoma (cancer of the skin), which affects both sexes.
Gwinji said since 2005, the country had been experiencing a gradual rise in cancer cases.
In 2005, a total of 4 015 cases of cancer were recorded, while in 2011, cancer incidence had risen to 5 553.
Two years later, there 6 548 cases were recorded.
“The survival rate has been observed to be very low in Harare. Late reporting, late diagnosis and late treatment and care all contribute to this high fatality rate in cancer patients,” Gwinji said.
Oncologist Anna-Mary Nyakabau said the problem was that many people go for treatment late when the cancer has already reached advanced stages three and four.
“When chemotherapy is then administered on those patients with advanced cancer and they die, they begin to blame chemotherapy and yet the problem is late diagnosis and treatment. If treated early, patients survive,” Nyakabau said.
Family Health director in the ministry Bernard Madzima said the burden of cervical cancer in the country was high to the extent that 2 270 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, while 1 400 die.