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Wednesday, 22 November 2017


According to estimates of Dar es Salaam’s Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI), Tanzania registers about 50,000 new cancer patients every year. However, ORCI, which is the largest cancer referral institution in the country, is only able to attend to 5,000 or 10% of the patients.
In Tanzania, there are few cancer treatment centers to serve the entire population of 55 million people. Unfortunately, not many can afford to cover long distances from all over the country to receive treatment, which can take weeks or months. And it’s not always easy to get cancer patients to keep coming back following initial on-the-scene diagnosis of oncology. Many don’t have the money to get to the hospital or stay for treatment.
With few medical facilities patients need to wait long time to clear out their diagnosis and receive timely treatment.
For many of the patients who manage to receive treatment, their cancers have already metastasized to the point that administering palliative care becomes the only remaining option.
Such a tragic state of affairs can be considerably leveled down by increasing services of nuclear medicine and development of special centers of isotope production for local hospitals. Isotopes, nuclear particles, are used in scanning and treatment as they are able to detect and cure tumors at early stage. Globally more than 40 million procedures with nuclear isotopes are performed annually. Nuclear medicine proved to be very efficient in treating oncology and other serious diseases.
Today, using nuclear technologies, Tanzanian doctors can deliver more precise radiation treatment for cancer patients. Specialist at ORCI are now able to employ 3D scanning of tumors, which according to Mark Mseti, oncologist at the institute, is a very important technique to treat successfully a tumor.In modern nuclear medicine the radiation is used only to focus on affected area avoiding any harm to healthy tissue.
Tanzania is set to develop a cancer registry as part of a new health policy to manage the non-communicable disease.Tanzanian own experience in the nuclear medicine will help to prevent the majority of cancer cases, as early scanning and tumor detection can save thousands of lives.
In future Tanzania can follow the example of Zambia, which decided to build its own center of nuclear science and technologies to give an impetus to its own nuclear medicine, because the center will provide a ground to conduct comprehensive research in the sphere.
As mentioned Viktor Polikarpov, Rosatom Vice-President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Nuclear research center will make it possible for Zambia to become one of the industry leaders in Central and Eastern Africa. Research reactors have potential to adjust nuclear technologies for social development. For instance production of medical isotopes to treat cancer and other diseases could not be possible without research reactors.
The broad range of applications of nuclear technologies in medicine is impressive. For instance, nuclear technologies in medicine can be used to examine diverse conditions such as; blood flow to brain, functioning of liver, lungs, heart or kidneys, to determine primary oncological disease and assess presence of metastases, and etc. Diagnostic procedures using radioisotopes have become common practice around the world.

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