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Lawrence Magoola, 32, has spent the past year nursing his mother, a breast cancer patient who has been receiving radiation treatment at Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI).

Magoola’s mother is one of 65,000 new cancer patients registered with UCI last year, as the East African country grapples with an increasing number of cancer cases.

UCI, which has been establishing cancer treatment centers across the country to fight the disease, has set up centers at the northern Gulu Regional Referral Hospital and the western Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, with more due to be established in the eastern and northwestern parts of the country.

Jackson Orem, head of UCI, called for raising awareness of cancer on Wednesday, ahead of World Cancer Day.

February is marked as “cancer awareness month” with the theme “I am and I will” to resonate, inspire change and mobilize action against cancer, Orem told Xinhua in an interview.

In 2018, Kampala Cancer Registry registered 32,617 new cancer cases and 21,829 deaths, according to data from the country’s health ministry.

Many of the cases turned up at the institute when the disease was in advanced stages and nothing much could be done to cure it, the ministry said.

Current evidence shows that between 30 percent and 50 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented by changing or avoiding key risk factors such as tobacco use, harmful alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity and obesity, it said.

Plans are underway to increase cancer awareness and screening services across the country, the ministry added.

UCI has recently acquired modern equipment which helps quicken service delivery and ease patient overcrowding in the center, Orem said.

In addition to radiotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery and palliative care, the institute also provides cancer management through screening, risk reduction and care for newly diagnosed patients.

“We also have a community cancer outreach program campaign that we carry out countrywide. We talk to relatives, patients and families that are affected by cancer,” Orem said.

UCI, a center for Oncology in the East African region and a training site for cancer therapists, works with its partners such as the University of Cambridge Cancer Center and National Cancer Center of Korea to find cancer treatment solutions.

Xinhua