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Foundation holds free screening for colon cancer in Lagos

The Niola Cancer Care Foundation held its annual cancer care event and free screening in Lagos on Saturday, with the theme ‘Ijoya’.

This, according to its founder and Executive Director, Mrs Eniola Akintunde, would be the fifth edition, with over 2,000 Nigerians benefitting from the programme.

Speaking to Sunday PUNCH on the sidelines of the event, Akintunde said the event was all about free colon cancer screening, exercise and dance and engaging with colon cancer survivors and several government and non-governmental bodies to create more awareness on the cancer.

She noted that colon cancer had been linked to a sedentary lifestyle and eating too much processed foods, adding that organic foods, vegetables and fruits remained the best to prevent cancer.

According to her, the foundation started in 2016 after her husband died of colon cancer.

She stated, “My late husband died in 2013 from complications from colorectal cancer, but before then, I didn’t know anything about colon cancer. So, when people came to pay me condolence visits and asked what killed him and I said, ‘colon cancer’, most of them were shocked.

“Most of them did not know what colon cancer is. This showed me that a vacuum needed to be filled and that was how we started.”

On the achievements of the organisation in its seven years of existence, Akintunde said the organisation, in addition to screening over 2,000 individuals for Fecal Occult Blood Tests between 2017 and 2021, had been able to reach out to 10 million Nigerians through advocacy and awareness on colon cancer.

She said, “We have supported over 150 colorectal cancer patients and other cancer patients with colostomy bags and medical deliverables from 2016 till date. We have also offered support to over 100 cancer patients on palliative care since 2013.

“Since 2014, the NCCF has spent Christmas Day with cancer patients and the sick who are on admission in any of the tertiary hospitals in Lagos State. We aid them emotionally and psychologically as well as donating fresh fruits, vegetables and fresh local foods, toiletries and water to those on admission. We have reached over 1,011 patients with this.”

She also noted that she had used her jewel business to fight cancer, adding that her ‘The Jewel Against Cancer’ was approved and posted on World Cancer Day’s website, hosted by the Union for Cancer Control, Geneva.

She also noted that the Global Colon Cancer Association sponsored this year’s edition of the event.

The Cancer Control Coordinator at the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr Abosede Wellington, described colon cancer as a type of cancer that affects a part of the intestine, called the colon or large intestine.

Wellington added, “Some people don’t know they can have cancer of the intestines but this is real and it happens, and it is actually on the rise. One of the risk factors is diet. We used to eat a lot of local foods in the past. Now, we eat a lot of processed foods and these things increase the risk of developing colon cancer.”

The doctor noted that with early detection, the cancer could be cured.

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