Against the backdrop of increasing deaths due to Cancer in Nigeria, the Head, Department of Nursing, University of Ibadan, Professor Prisca Adejumo, has stressed the need to incorporate genetic counseling into the nursing care of cancer patients and their relatives as part of cancer preventive measures.
Adejumo, delivering her inaugural lecture entitled “Riding Through Risks into New Frontier: The Nurse, The Nursed and Nursing” at the University of Ibadan, said genetic counselling was a preventive care service that can help individuals know their risk of coming down with cancer and proactive in its prevention.
The don stated that genetics knowledge and techniques are becoming rapidly important in the cancer care but the case is different in Nigeria where knowledge about genetic susceptibility has not been explored.
According to Professor Adejumo, studies among people living with breast cancer to elicit their knowledge of genetic counseling found that majority of the breast cancer patients do not know what cause breast cancer.
She stated: “Some even believe that it is a “spiritual arrow”. Majority of them also believe that once breastcancer is diagnosed, it results in death.”
Professor Adejumo assured that genetic counselling of cancerpatients and their relatives will facilitate their being receptive to the options available for treatment, including early detection, prophylactic surgery and changing the culture of misunderstanding and poor perception on cancer.
The expert stated that approximately 70 per cent of deaths from cancer occur in low and middle income countries, adding that it was a misconception that cancer is not an African problem.
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She declared: “Cancer is a major cause of premature death in low and middle income countries. It is known to have a genetic component and can be reduced to a large extent through appropriate genetic counselling and risk assessment.”
Professor Adejumo, however, said that facilities for genetic testing are available at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, adding that at the hospital, genetic counselling and testing had been offered to over 100 patients.
The don also canvassed for more attention to nursing as a profession.
According to him, “whether in dying or in living, we need them. If we invest in nurses and midwives therefore, we will receive quality care in living or in dying.”
For nursing to develop in the countries, she said all forms of risks to the practitioners be minimised.
“Adequate support in terms of finance and personnel must be available for the nurse, not only to nurse the nursed but also not to transmit to become the nursed,” she concluded.
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