There has been an increase in the number of cancer cases in Nigeria. Some people allege that it is the disease of the rich class. But this is not true, as anybody can become a victim of this incurable ailment. The causes of cancer haven’t been well enough for awareness purposes, but at least, there are measures for managing the disease.
One of such approaches is what we know today as “radiotherapy”. Radiotherapy is considered a very expensive management approach for cancer. It is on this note that it is still a core challenge for people living below the middle class in Nigeria to undergo radiotherapy.
Radiotherapy is a technique that involves the use of invisible high-energy rays or beams of subatomic particles to destroy cancerous cells. The medical personnel that is specialized in radiation therapy is known as a radiation oncologist. There are two classes of radiotherapy, we have the Internal and External Radiotherapy.
In this article, we would be reviewing how much it costs to undergo radiotherapy in Nigeria today.
Current Cost of Radiotherapy in Nigeria Today
The cost of getting treated by radiotherapy is based on some factors. Some of these include; the location of the hospital, the type of radiotherapy, the dose of radiotherapy, and the type of cancer that is to be treated. On a general note, radiotherapy can be quite expensive. The procedure involves the use of big machines, and also the contribution of a lot of medical practitioners from the same or other fields.
On an average scale, the cost of one complete radiotherapy session can cost up to N300,000 to N1,000,000. And this depends mostly on the type of radiotherapy that is involved, the drugs administered and the dose of the radiation.
What are the side effects of radiotherapy?
Radio-therapeutic indulgence can cure a lot of cancers. All the same, just like other cancer treatments, this one has its own side effects. The side effect depends largely on the type of cancer. It can also depend on some other factors like the dose of the radiation, the location of cancer and lastly the health of the individual. Most individuals with a weak immune system suffer adverse side effects of radiotherapy.
In radiotherapy, large amounts of therapy are used in destroying cancerous cells. Improvements in technology have made radiotherapy to be more accurate in targeting cancerous cells, thereby reducing the side effect. This makes sure that the radiation only affects the cancer cells and leaves other cells alone. In chemotherapy, for instance, it is more targeted because chemical agents are used in the process. This is seen in reduced hair loss. On the other hand, radiotherapy can most times lead to complete hair loss. Total loss of hair is one of the major side effects of Radiotherapy.
Skin related problems
This is inarguably one of the most observed side effects of using Radiotherapy. In light of this, patients are known to report itching in their skin and most times, skin peeling and skin dryness. Although most skin-related issues patients complain about, it usually wears off after a couple of weeks.
Loss of strength
Radiotherapy can make patients feel weak and clumsy all the time. This also varies from person to person, as differences in body weight and body chemistry can be a major discrepancy factor in this case. Patients that combine Radiotherapy with chemotherapy experience more tiredness than patients that only underwent radiotherapy.
Long-term side effects of radiotherapy
On a general note, most side effects that are related to radiation are short-termed. But there are also some side effects that would not go away easily. They keep recurring and might even develop into an illness. Sometimes, they can even result in another form of cancer.
Radiation recall effect
Radiation recall one very serious side effect of radiation therapy. This one tends to physically look like a sunburn. Radiation recall occurs when a very high dose of radiotherapy is used in treating the patient. It appears like a rash that is concentrated on the part of the skin where the chemotherapy or Radiotherapy took place.
Some of the symptoms of the radiation recall include swelling, wet sores and redness of the affected skin layer. The type of cancer that is being treated determines the intensity of the radiation. The symptoms might not appear immediately, but maybe after a couple of years.
Best Centres for Radiotherapy Treatment in Nigeria
Nigeria has at least seven approved radiotherapy facilities for radiotherapy treatment. They are located at:
- University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan
- Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos
- National Hospital Abuja
- Eko Hospitals, Lagos- the only private hospital that has facilities for radiotherapy in Nigeria
- University of Nigeria Teaching hospital( UNTH), Enugu
- University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Benin City, Edo
- Ahmadu Bello Teaching Hospital, Kaduna
- Uthman Danfodiyyo Teaching Hospital (UDTH), Sokoto