Kenya Society of Haematology and Oncology (KESHO) was founded in 2002. Its main objective at inception was to be a catalyst for research in cancer and blood diseases, to help improve patient care in these areas, and to provide physicians involved in diagnosis and treatment of cancer and blood diseases with fora to discuss ideas for purposes of improving practice and outcomes.
Cancer has now been established to rank third locally as a killer, after infections and cardiovascular diseases. The situation may not be very different in other countries in the region. Whereas cancer was mainly considered a disease of affluent life styles, those occasioned by infectious causes not withstanding, the rates in high income countries are now declining, while the rates in low income countries are rising. Various affluent cancer-causing factors are suspected while only a handful is established.
The WHO estimates that by the year 2020 cancer will kill over 10 million people annually. The number of new cases will rise from 10 million people to 16 million people in 2020 with nearly 50% increase in developing countries particularly Africa. In the case of Kenya the population is roughly 40million. The new cases being reported with cancer is about 40,000 annually.
The fight against cancer cannot be left in the hands of physicians alone. Other stakeholders including basic scientists, nurses, counselors, epidemiologists, advocacy groups, environmentalists, to name but a few, must be involved. Governments and policy makers cannot be left out in the fight for cancer prevention, early detection and treatment, rehabilitation and end of life care.