Common Cancers in Nigeria

Hesham Fathi

Hesham Fathi

Common Cancers in Nigeria, Symptoms and Early Detection Methods 

Did you know that 4 out of 5 cancer cases in Nigeria lead to death?  

Cancer is mostly a genetic disease caused by specific mutations in genes. While there are no known specific causes of cancer, there are risk factors that can expose someone to cancer.  

These risk factors include environmental exposure to agents that can lead to cancer. People’s daily habits can also contribute to cancer, and that’s why some cancers are more prevalent in certain countries than others. 

Below is a list of the most prevalent types of cancer in Nigeria, symptoms, and possible screening tests to aid in early detection.  

Breast Cancer  

Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women but can rarely occur in men. About 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and the risk increases in those with a family history. 

The most important symptoms of breast cancer include the following: 

  • Breast lumps. 
  • Breast pains 
  • Nipple discharge 
  • Change the size or shape of a breast. 
  • Change in the appearance of the nipple. 

A healthy diet and exercise can help prevent breast cancer by up to 33%. Some screening methods for breast cancer include a self and clinical breast examination, ultrasound scan, mammogram and Magnetic Resonance Images (MRI). You can schedule a free clinical breast examination with Reliance Family Clinic here.  

Cervical Cancer  

Cervical cancer is the second most prevalent cancer in Nigeria and occurs in women aged between 15 and 44 years.  

Cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix (just before the uterus). Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are linked to human papillomaviruses (HPV), which is mostly transmitted through sexual contact.  

If HPV is detected early, it can be treated, and the patient can recover fully.  

The HPV vaccine is an effective and safe preventive method for cervical cancer. The Human papillomavirus (HPV) test and Pap test are some tests that can help identify early signs of cervical cancer.  

Schedule a consultation and screening from the Reliance Family Clinic website.  

READ ALSO: Symptoms and Treatment of Cervical Cancer

Colorectal Cancer 

Colorectal Cancer is the third most common cancer in Nigeria and the most common cancer of the gastrointestinal tract. As with Cervical cancer, early detection can allow patients to get proper treatment and recover fully.  

Some of the symptoms of colorectal cancer include. 

  •  Change in bowel habits. 
  • Bloody stool. 
  • Regular diarrhea or constipation, 
  • Recurring abdominal pain, aches, or cramps 
  • Unexplained weight loss.  

Some screening methods for colorectal cancer include colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, fecal occult blood test (FOBT), double-contrast barium enema, and stool DNA tests.  

Schedule a consultation and screening from the Reliance Family Clinic website

Liver Cancer 

The causes of liver cancer are unknown, but most have been associated with liver cirrhosis or scaring.  

Cirrhosis can have several different causes, including drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over many years and having a long-term hepatitis B or hepatitis C viral infection. Schedule hepatitis screening and vaccination here.   

Some of the symptoms of liver cancer include  

  • Unexplained weight loss 
  • Appetite loss and gets easily full with little food 
  • Abdominal pain or swelling and itchy skin 
  • Weakness and tiredness, among others.  

The most satisfactory screening method for cancer is to visit a general practitioner to prescribe a screening test. Some screening tests include CT scans, Imaging tests, and MRI screening.  

Prostate Cancer  

Prostate cancer occurs in the prostate gland and is the most common cancer among men. The prostate gland is very important in sperm production. Prostate cancer affects 40% of men from 40 years and above.  

Late diagnosis can result in a severe disease outcome and death. Prostate cancer rarely has symptoms, but some issues can indicate prostate cancer like  

  • painful urination  
  • difficulty urination 
  • Frequency of urination 
  • Poor urine stream  

Regular screening is advised for men above the age of 40. Some screening tests include blood tests to measure PSA antigen levels and digital rectal examination. Schedule a consultation and screening at the Reliance Family Clinic website


For many types of cancer, early detection has generally improved the recovery rates of cancer patients. Healthcare plans from Reliance Health provide coverage for some important screening you can undertake if you suspect any signs and symptoms of cancer. 

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Hesham Fathi

Hesham Fathi

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