Malawi tops Oesophageal Cancer list in Africa

A General Surgeon at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), Dr Luwano Kalongolera has said it is a known fact that in Africa, Malawi stands the highest ranking country facingoesophageal cancer (also known as cancer of the oesophagus).

Dr. Kalongolera said this in Blantyre on Wednesday during a Media Heath Cafe organized by the Support for Service Delivery and Integration (SSDI).

Kalongolera said many people, especially from the rural areas come to the hospital when the disease is already at an advanced stage and that by that time they are unable to swallow food and have already lost weight.

“It can be premature to give you details of the disease but the fact is Malawi is topping the list in Africa. It seems there is lack of knowledge on the disease to both the medical staff and the community.

“There is need to educate the community on how best they can seek medical attention in time because they need to come in time for interventions so that an operation should be done quickly.

“But normally, people are coming too late to seek medical attention and by then, we cannot do anything. So we just tell them how to lead a comfortable life in the few days ahead of them,” said Dr Kalongolera.

He said the cancer is commonest caused by drinking too much alcohol and smoking but however, said people who are fat are also at high risk of being attacked by the disease.

Dr. Kalongolera added that even smoked food can cause the disease as it can be contaminated by some chemicals produced by some organisms noting that the list of the causes is long.

He said currently, work is underway to see why many people are being attacked by oesophageal cancer in the country.cancer-womanReuters

“What is important currently is just to sensitize the community on the signs of the disease so that they can come to hospital early and get help appropriately.

“Some of the signs are that people will start facing problems to swallow solid food, they also feel that food has stopped at the chest and they need water to push it downward, weight loss, loss of appetite but the main sign is that a person fails to swallow food.

“At the time one starts complaining about that problem, it might already be too late, so there is need to inform the communities.

Some literature says the disease is common in people aged 55 and above but in Malawi it starts in the ages of 20,” added Dr. Kalongolera.-Mana

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