Ugandans yesterday woke up to the news of the passing on of former Security minister Gen Elly Tumwine aged 68.
In a statement on Twitter, President Museveni revealed that the four-star general had succumbed to lung cancer.
According to relatives and friends of the general, Tumwine’s health deteriorated last month and he was taken to Nakasero Hospital. He was later referred to the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya, where he died.
This publication has also learnt that he had been receiving treatment at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI).
In an interview with Mania Media yesterday, Dr Noleb Mugisha, the head of cancer prevention at the UCI, said the most common cause of lung cancer is exposure to smoke. This he said can be done through smoking tobacco or inhaling any kind of smoke from the environment.
Dr Mugisha explained that when smoke enters the lungs, it forms soot that has different kinds of poisons that trigger the development of cancer.
He added that inhaling asbestos fumes can also cause cancer. He said as asbestos gets old, it releases particles in the air which can be inhaled by those near it.
“Some schools in Uganda still have asbestos sheets. In America, if there is any institution with asbestos sheets, they don’t remove them; they close that institution and call it a no-go area,” Dr Mugisha said.
He added: “Undergoing cancer therapy on the chest can also increase one’s risk of developing lung cancer. People in mining areas which have uranium are also at increased risk.”
However, Dr Mugisha said lung cancer is not very common in Uganda.
Data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), indicates that the prevalence of lung cancer is 1 per 100,000 people. This is several times less than cervical cancer with a prevalence of 55 per 100,000.
He said the chance of getting cured of any type of cancer depends on the time it takes to diagnose it.
According to information from the UCI and the American Cancer Society, quitting smoking and minimising exposure to smoke and other carcinogens, eating a balanced diet and exercising, reduce our risk of developing cancer.
In America, if there is any institution with asbestos sheets, they don’t remove them; they close that institution and call it a no-go area,” Dr Noleb Mugisha, the head of cancer prevention at the UCI