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Varsity develops cancer registries to help fight against cancer

Mount Kenya University (MKU) has partnered with Kiambu and Machakos Counties to develop population-based Cancer Registries to help in the fight against cancer burden in the country.

The Machakos Registry was completed and handed over to the County’s Health Department in November last year and was done in collaboration with AIC Kijabe Hospital while the Kiambu one will be completed and handed over in the next few months.

The University top researchers, led by Dr Francis Makokha said they are partnering with the Machakos County Health Department to update the records.

He said they have donated a desktop computer to host the cancer registry in the CanReg software from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a World Health Organization Agency.

The registries will help in determining the prevalence of different types of cancers in the counties and their demographics. The data will then inform on the planning to address cancer challenges by the national and county governments.

“The registries will help establish the near exact number of people to care for to ease planning. They will guide in prioritising planning for cancer care, prevention and psycho-social support programmes to reduce the burden of cancer in these counties,” he said.

The two Registries will add to the Nairobi Cancer Registry that records cancer occurring among Nairobi residents and Eldoret Cancer Registry that records cancer occurring among residents surrounding Eldoret town, namely Nandi, Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties.

In Kenya, about 42,116 people were diagnosed with cancer while 27,092 died from cancer related illnesses in 2020, with the figure likely being higher due to the few cancer registries in the country.

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed type of cancer, accounting for 16.1 per cent followed by cervical, prostate, esophageal and colorectal cancer.

The University has also partnered with other institutions including Aga Khan University Hospital and AIC Kijabe Hospital to unearth genetic changes among breast cancer patients in the country.

This study is being funded by a grant from The National Research Fund (NRF) Kenya.

“The study helps to improve breast cancer treatment outcomes by based treatment on the genetic nature of the patient, as is the case of personalised medicine,” added Dr Makokha.

By Muoki Charles

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