Alarming Rise in Cancer Cases in Zimbabwe: Late Diagnosis and Affordability Hindrances
Recent data from the Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry has revealed a concerning surge in cancer cases in the country, with at least 8,500 new cases recorded annually.
The report, which delves into the state of cancer in Zimbabwe, indicates a notable increase compared to the 2018 figures when 7,841 new cases and 2,743 cancer-related deaths were documented.
Cervical cancer emerges as a significant contributor to the overall cancer burden among women, accounting for approximately 38 percent of cases, according to the Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry.
Lovemore Makurirofa, the Information Research and Evaluation Officer at the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe (CAZ), expressed deep concern over the prevailing situation.
He highlighted that a staggering 80 percent of cancer cases are diagnosed at advanced stages (stage three and four), pointing to a pervasive issue of late-stage diagnosis.
“The situation is very worrying in that 80 percent of all the cancer cases are being diagnosed at stage three and four, so there is late-stage diagnosis,” said Makurirofa.
He attributed this delay to multiple factors, including late reporting to health institutions, potential visits to traditional healers before seeking medical help, and financial constraints hindering timely hospital visits.
Makurirofa emphasized the financial challenges associated with cancer diagnosis and treatment, stating, “It’s not only the cost of treatment, which is high, but also the diagnosis also, because you need to be able to afford the scans, you need to afford the biopsies and so forth, and a lot of people cannot afford these scans and biopsies, so it’s also an area that requires consideration.”
The Cancer Association of Zimbabwe official outlined the limited treatment options available in the country, with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery being the primary modalities.
He also mentioned an upward trend in other cancers, such as colon and rectal cancers, compounding the growing cancer burden.
The revelation of an increasing number of cancer cases and the prevalence of late-stage diagnoses underscores the urgency for comprehensive measures, including public awareness campaigns, improved accessibility to affordable diagnostic procedures, and enhanced support for cancer patients in Zimbabwe.