Cancer cases on the rise in Malawi, wary medical expert

Malawi’s oncologists Richard Nyasosera has expressed concern that the number of cancer cases in the country continues to increase for both men and women.

Many women prone to cervical cancer

Many women prone to cervical cancer

According to the Nyasosera currently at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) Cancer Unit in Lilongwe, Malawi  is facing a cancer threat, with about 1500 cases of cancer.

“In the past five years, cases of cancer have been on the rise “, he said.

Nyasosera said  that the figure may be more than 1500 if all cases were to be identified at hospitals.

He disclosed this in Lilongwe on Friday during launch of ‘sports for health’ initiative among public servants and general cancer awareness event.

The medical oncologist said the common types of cancers in Malawi are Kaposi sarcoma, cervical cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer.

He bemoaned that many people go to the hospital when the disease is at an advanced stage.

“In most cases, patients  typically approach oncologists in the later stages of cancer. This is the main reason why survival rates are low,” he said.

“ This makes it difficult to control. It is, therefore, important that people must rush to the hospital, if they are not
feeling well”, Nyasosera said.

He said there is need to improve the country’s screening programmes, especially in cases of cervical and breast cancer in women.

“We have to emphasise early diagnosis and giving the right treatment without delay,” he said.

He, however, suggested there should be increased awareness on what causes the disease and equip hospital laboratories.

Cancer specialists say the killer disease is largely fuelled by sedentary lifestyles and poor dietary habits among other causes.

Smoking and drinking alcohol are two of the biggest things that increase the chance of developing oral, liver and kidney cancer.

“Alcohol increases the risk of cancer even at low doses,” say the researchers from the University of Milan and other centres in the US, France, Canada, Iran and Sweden.

They argued that by stopping smoking and cutting back on alcohol, people can lower risk of these cancers as well as other diseases.

“Maintaining a healthy bodyweight is also important in cutting the risk of liver and kidney cancers.”

Cancer Association of Malawi (CAM) Chairperson, Chifundo Chogawana said cancer remains the biggest challenge in Malawi because of lack of awareness about the disease.

He appealed to government to treat cancer like any other deadly disease such as HIV and AIDS by creating massive awareness campaigns.

Chief secretary to the government, George Mkondiwa said there is “ a lot of commitment from government to assist people with cancer.”

Mkondiwa said there are plans to build a cancer centre in the country.

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12 thoughts on “Cancer cases on the rise in Malawi, wary medical expert”

  1. The leading causes of cancer deaths in Malawi are cervical cancer, kaposi sarcoma, esophageal cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, lymphomas, and sarcomas. Breast cancer is actually quite uncommon, along with liver and kidney cancers.

    the #1 and #2 cancers in Malawi (cervical cancer and kaposi sarcoma) are not due to diet, smoking, nor drinking. They are because of sex. HIV is the leading risk factor for KS and cervical CA. KS occurs in people who have poorly treated HIV. Cervical CA occurs due to a sexually transmitted infection virus called HPV – the risk factors for HPV are sex at an early age, multiple sexual partners, and uncircumcised men – and HPV progresses to cervical cancer much more frequently and quickly when the woman has poor immunity from HIV.
    Malawi has the world’s highest Cervical Cancer rates and about 6451 Malawian women per year get cervical cancer, according to the W.H.O. 2014 report. Screening for Cervical CA can be done by VIA but PAP smears are a better way to catch the cervical changes before it becomes cancer, and when coupled with the adjuncts of culposcopy and LEEP, can dramatically decrease the Cervical CA rates. The only hospital in Malawi doing such a screening and prevention program is Malamulo Mission Hospital in Thyolo. Early surgical intervention can be helpful with cervical cancer, but most cervical cancer patients would benefit from Radiation Oncology. Unfortunately, Malawi does not have Radiation treatment, the closest radiation treatment centers are Lusaka, Dar es Salaam, Harare, J-berg. The addition of PAP smears and cytology, cervical biopsies and pathology, early diagnosis and surgery, and the addition of radiation oncology are needed to curb the cervical cancer pandemic in Malawi.

    As a side note: Dr. Masamba (QECH) is also one of Malawi’s oncologists. Thus the opening line “Malawi’s Oncologists Richard Nyasosera” should be written “One of Malawi’s Oncologists, Richard Nyasosera, …” because he is not the only Oncologist in Malawi. His number of 1500 Malawians with cancer is a MASSIVE understatement. Malawi has >1.7 million people with HIV and thus if only 1500 people have CA, then it isn’t even in the same category of problems with HIV, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, CCF, heart disease, perinatal and neonatal complications,TB, RTAs, lung disease (according to CDC 2014 Malawi fact sheet and the C.O.M Burden of Disease Estimates – which stated that Cervical CA causes 0.7% of deaths each year).

  2. Padazi Pa Ntaba Kodi Ungalembepo Ndi Choko says:

    Sizoona kuti aids ndi imene ikubweretsa cancer monga mmene ena alembera pa pa tsamba lino. (Read that in Ntaba’s

    Recent studies point to the fact that living near mobile phone masts or television transmitters increases one’s chances of having cancer. Actually in 2011 the IARC, the authority of WHO on cancers declared mobile phones a class B carcinogen – cancer causing agents.

    Now in Malawi mobile phone masts and phone usage have been on the increase in recent times. It is not a coincidence therefore that cancer issues have been on the increase at the same time as these phone and television transmitting towers.

    Again unlike elsewhere, Malawians tend to use mobile phones too much for voice calls (often without ear phones or hands free) than texts which raises the risks even further.

    Paja aKaliati anaitsutsa nkhani imeneyi ali mu DPP Part1, kaya ulendo uno ati bwanji pamenepa?

    Tiye nazoni DPP Part 2, by the Living Mutharika Jazz Band and Alomwe Okhaokha Orchestra.

  3. tell these malawians only the truth about the causes of cancer! kapena mufuna mu pemphe fumding yopita ku BEAM TRUST!

  4. Wachimalawi says:

    Ma birth control, GM foods, polution, thats whats making in rise, poor diets and proccessed foods nkatimo

  5. cancer centre mungamange pa ndata Mesa zonse zimamangidwa Ku mwera. causes of cancer is HIV not mowa kapena fodya Ai osawanamiza anthu. kale kulibe Aids cancer was a taboo pano cancer ili paliponse HIV

  6. Kanjex says:

    Kuzakhala ma unhealed deseases @ the ends of the World

  7. Patriot says:

    SIYANI KUDYA NKHUKU ZACHIZUNGU, 4 weeks chimwanapiye chskula kale. Zoona?
    Kale tikudya yathu ya lokolo kunalibe nthenda za azunguzi.

  8. Dr.Jack says:


  9. Critic eye says:

    By the way, is Mr. Richard Nyasosela, a medical oncologist or Radition Oncologist?

  10. Msena says:

    Mr. Richard Nyasosela, thanks for this. Please work hard. Are there 2 Richard Nyasosela who went to the same secondary school? Thanks

  11. Doctor says:

    It is very unsettling reading this kind of reporting. For starters, “cancer” is not “A” disease. There are more than a hundred different tyoes of cancers with variable progressions and prognosis. It would be advisable for a reporter to do a little bit of reading and asking to understand what they are about to reoprt on before spitting out a primary school article like this.

    Just to get a few things straight, oncologists do not diagnose “cancers”. Rather, they for a part of the many specialties who at times take a biopsy to send to a pathologist for diagniosis and grading. The role of an oncologist is to treat and follow the patient up. In short, the management of a “cancer” patient is broad and requires various specialties.

  12. ujeni says:

    Mkondiwa, where are you going to build this cancer centre? In Mulanje?

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