Rising cases of oesophagus and stomach cancer among men in Nyeri has raised concerns among health experts as they push for a government-funded research in the county.
Though prostate cancer is the most prevalent among men seeking treatment at the county referral hospital at 18 percent, there is a rise in the number of oesophagus cancer cases being reported at the health facility.
At least 16 percent of the men going for screening at the hospital have oesophagus cancer.
“We are noticing a very high trend in the cases of oesophagus cancer among men and we need more research to find out the core reason for the increased numbers,” noted Dr Nelson Muriu, the county head of Medical Services.
The county government, through a partnership with Goodsmile Onlus, a non-governmental organisation, held a nine-day camp at the referral hospital that revealed the rising cases of cancer in Nyeri.
The hospital has an endoscopy machine, which relieves patients of the financial burden of seeking treatment in private hospitals.
Endoscopy testing in a private hospital cost between Sh10,000 and Sh15,000 while a colonoscopy test costs a patient between Sh25,000 to Sh35,000.
Under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC), patients will have the tests done for free.
Dr Muriu further stated that many of the detected cases were in the early stages meaning they are treatable.
During the medical camp, doctors conducted 78 endoscopies and 31 colonoscopies on people of all ages but majority of the patients were aged above 50 years according to the county’s head of medical services Nelson Muriu.
Of those tested 98 were from Nyeri County while the rest were from Embu, Murang’a and Laikipia counties.
“A lot of this, especially the oesophagus cancer, is linked to the consumption of alcohol and hot tea as well as smoking but that is just a hypothesis and more research should be done to confirm the actual cause,” noted Dr Muriu.
A report done by the Health department indicates that a third of cancer cases reported at the referral hospital were those of women suffering from breast cancer, accounting for 21 percent of the patients, and cervical cancer at 17 percent.
In the partnership, at least nine doctors were trained alongside 25 nurses on how to perform the tests.
“We are organising another camp next month because the results we have now show a dire need for these services,” he said, adding that the county has two doctors undergoing training.