The spread of cancer in Botswana has been linked to joblessness, with about 55 percent of those reported to have cancer registered as unemployed. Peasant farmers are also at high risk of the cancer epidemic with more than 15 percent recorded as cancer patients.
Information reveals that Gaborone is in the lead, with the highest number of cancer patients in Botswana, notably those with cervical cancer.
Gaborone alone registered more than 2,100 patients between 1998 and 2008. Kweneng East comes second to the capital, followed by Serowe/Palapye.
“The results don’t necessarily mean there are more cancer patients in Gaborone than the rest of Botswana. The statistics could be a result of the abundance in medical facilities within the city when compared to other parts of the country,” said Dr Malebogo Pusoentsi of the Botswana National Cancer Registry (BNCR).
The BNCR was first started at Marina in 1986 when cancer levels in Botswana were low; it has since moved to the Ministry of Health (MoH) and is today managed by a Principal Medical Officer with support from Princess Marina Hospital and 2 technical officers.
Alcohol consumption has been identified as one of the risk factors associated with the spread of cervical cancer amongst Batswana women. Along with multiple sexual partners, tobacco use, HPV and a compromised immune system (HIV/AIDS), alcohol is said to be a contributing factor in women being likely to contract cervical cancer in their lifetime.
Currently, cervical cancer is suspected to be at par with the spread of breast cancer in Botswana.
However, available Botswana statistics recorded from the year 1998 to 2008 show that in Botswana 24 percent of reported cancer cases are usually those of the cervix.
According to statistics given out by the BNCR, 11,363 cases of cancer have been recorded and, out of this number, 6,164 cases are women. From this number 1,496 Batswana women have cervical cancer.
“Even though HPV is known as the main causative factor in cervical cancer, HPV genotypes in Botswana are yet to be reported; therefore the screening of choice still remains a PAP smear,” said Dr Pusoentsi.