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FIGHTING THIS BEAST CALLED CANCER (WORLD CANCER DAY 2015)

04-Feb-2015.By: Elsie Osho

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Much younger, all I knew about Cancer were images of people with bald heads. I often watched the television and see individuals like that and I said to myself, maybe cancer is a sickness that affects the human-hair. From the little I could read during the yearly awareness made was the catchy letters of the alphabet “CANCER”, I’m sure you know the image that came my mind; that was the only sense I could make from it. I thought cancer was a virus that wipes and attacks the human hair on our heads; little did I know that there was more to it. You won’t blame me; when I asked my parents what was actually wrong with those people seen in the TV, they tell me “they have cancer, that’s why they have got no hair on the heads”, no more; no less! (Parents, please take note. Always take time to explain clearly to a child whenever any question is asked. It is also part of education). I was left with little or no information on Cancer until something bizarre happened. Growing up with wrong orientation of Cancer had glued to my mind.

As years passed, the need to be more enlightened on Cancer grew when my best friend (Chika) was diagnosed to have Cancer of the lungs. Then it dawned on me that Cancer was no child’s play, not only did the reality set on me, but I also got to discover that Cancer are of different types and that the bald head I see on the TV is just one of the after signs of a cancerous person. Not to bore you with this story, we lost Chika to the Cancer; this was 9 years ago.

It was until a very few years ago I understood what the doctor that treated Chika meant in the early stage of her illness when he said; “she is exposed to too much cigarette smoke, and it has affected her delicate lungs to a large extent but she will be fine”. But Chika was never fine.

You’d ask why Chika smoked cigarettes- Well, she never did; her mum owned a local beer parlour , where she often helped in selling her mums goods and cleaning of the shop as well. This was how she became a passive smoker.

People get the wrong orientation of what Cancer is, they also attribute cancer to an individual’s age, but it doesn’t work that way. There are actually different types of cancer that affects parts of the body, and it doesn’t have to do with how old or young an individual is.

Today, being the World Cancer Day, provides another opportunity to share knowledge and of course remind ourselves of what Cancer is and also create the consciousness of the global fight against Cancer amongst ourselves.

Recently WHO ( . www.who.int   ) released some facts on Cancer-

  • 1. There are more than 100 types of cancers; and any part of the body can be affected.
  • 2. In 2008, 7.6 million people died of cancer - 13% of all deaths worldwide.
  • 3. About 70% of all cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • 4. Worldwide, the 5 most common types of cancer that kill men are (in order of frequency): lung, stomach, liver, colorectal and oesophagus .
  • 5. Worldwide, the 5 most common types of cancer that kill women are (in the order of frequency): breast, lung, stomach, colorectal and cervical. In many developing countries, cervical cancer is the most common cancer.
  • 6. Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of cancer in the world, causing 22% of cancer deaths
  • 7. One fifth of all cancers worldwide are caused by a chronic infection, for example, human papillomavirus (HPV) causes cervical cancer and hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes liver cancer.
  • 8. Cancers of major public health relevance, such as breast, cervical and colorectal cancer can be cured if detected early and treated adequately.
  • 9. All patients in need of pain relief could be helped if current knowledge about pain control and palliative care were applied.
  • 10. More than 30% of cancer could be prevented, mainly by not using tobacco, having a healthy diet, being physically active and moderating the use of alcohol. In developing countries up to 20% of cancer deaths could be prevented by immunization against the infection of HBV and HPV.

Cancer, also called malignancy, is an abnormal growth of cells. There are more than 100 types of cancer, including breast cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, bladder, stomach, oesophagus , Ovarian and lymphoma. Its symptoms vary depending on the type. Depending on the type and stage of cancer, treatments to eradicate the tumour or slow its growth may include some combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or immunotherapy and/or surgery. In extreme cases where it is malignant no amount of Chemotherapy or surgery will salvage the situation.

To a large extent, cancer is totally not a death sentence. It is not beyond us, if noticed on time, it can be treated to its roots; but it’s rarely detected, especially in this generation of ours where more attention is given to work, fun and hustle. 4 in every 10 Nigerian have traces of one cancer or the other, but are totally unaware because we misplace all the symptoms felt when ill to be either Malaria, Typhoid or both.

How Is Cancer Diagnosed?

The earlier cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the chance of its being cured. Some types of cancer -- such as those of the skin, breast, mouth, testicles, prostate, and rectum -- may be detected by routine self-exam or other screening measures before the symptoms become serious. Most cases of cancer are detected and diagnosed after a tumour can be felt or when other symptoms develop. In a few cases, cancer is diagnosed incidentally as a result of evaluating or treating other medical conditions.

Cancer diagnosis begins with a thorough physical exam and a complete medical history. Laboratory studies of blood, urine, and stool can detect abnormalities that may indicate cancer. When a tumour is suspected, imaging tests such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, and fibre -optic endoscopy examinations help doctors determine the cancer's location and size. To confirm the diagnosis of most cancers, a biopsy needs to be performed in which a tissue sample is removed from the suspected tumour and studied under a microscope to check for cancer cells. If the diagnosis is positive (cancer is present), other tests are performed to provide specific information about the cancer. This essential follow-up phase of diagnosis is called staging. The most important thing doctors need to know is whether the cancer has spread from one area of the body to another. If the initial diagnosis is negative for cancer and symptoms persist, further tests may be needed. If the biopsy is positive for cancer, be sure to seek a confirming opinion by a doctor who specializes in cancer treatment before any treatment is started.

The ideology that all cancer cases have to lead to death or long-term illness and later death is not all true. An individual can be rescued if and only if the tumour is discovered early enough.

Cancer can be managed/evaded with the help of;

Cancer Support-Supportive care can be derived from nurses and other professionals in combination with the cancer treatment. The goal is to relieve pain and other symptoms, maintain general health, improve quality of life, and provide emotional, psychological, and logistical support to patients and their families.

Exercise and Cancer

Exercise can help control fatigue, muscle tension, and anxiety in those with cancer. Patients tend to feel better if they do exercises such as walking or swimming. Exercise has also been shown to improve the outcomes associated with cancer treatment.

Mind/Body Medicine for Cancer

This is tackle the emotions caused by the knowledge of being diagnosed with Cancer. Some mind/body therapies improve quality of life for cancer patients through behaviour modification; others encourage expression of emotions. Behaviour therapies such as guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, hypnotherapy, and biofeedback are used to alleviate pain, nausea, vomiting, and the anxiety that may occur in anticipation of, or after, cancer treatment. In addition to taking prescribed medication, try relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation.

Eating right can help reduce cancer

No single food can prevent cancer, but the right combination of foods may help make a difference.

~Fruits and vegetables are rich in cancer-fighting nutrients -- and the more colour , the more nutrients they contain. These foods can help lower your risk in a second way, too, when they help you reach and maintain a healthy body weight. Carrying extra pounds increases the risk of multiple cancers, including colon, oesophagus , and kidney cancers. Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark green, red, and orange vegetables.

~Cancer-Fighting Breakfast- Folate is an important B vitamin that may help protect against cancers of the colon, rectum, and breast. You can find it in abundance on the breakfast table. Fortified breakfast cereals and whole wheat products are good sources of folate. So are orange juice, melons, and strawberries.

More Folate-Rich Foods. Other good sources of folate are asparagus and eggs. You can also find it in beans, sunflower seeds, and leafy green vegetables like spinach or romaine lettuce. The best way to get folate is not from a pill, but by eating enough fruits, vegetables, and enriched grain products.

~Cut down on the meat- Sandwich or hot dog isn't going to hurt you. But cutting back on processed meats like ham, and hot dogs will help lower your risk of colorectal and stomach cancers. Also, eating meats that have been preserved by smoking or with salt raises your exposure to chemicals that can potentially cause cancer.

~Cancer-Fighting Tomatoes- Whether it's the lycopene -- the pigment that gives tomatoes their red colour -- or something else isn't clear. But some studies have linked eating tomatoes to reduce risk of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer. Studies also suggest that processed tomato products such as juice, sauce, or paste increase the cancer-fighting potential.

~Tea's Anticancer Potential- Even though the evidence is still spotty, tea, especially green tea, may be a strong cancer fighter. In laboratory studies, green tea has slowed or prevented the development of cancer in colon, liver, breast, and prostate cells. It also had a similar effect in lung tissue and skin. And in some longer term studies, tea was associated with lower risks for bladder, stomach, and pancreatic cancers.

There are more ways of how cancer can be managed, but for this purpose; we leave it at this. Cancer is not beyond you, you should not be shaken by the images seen in cancer patients. They are still humans and they are not condemned to death because they have one form of cancer or the other.

We can come out of this if we only try harder than we already have. Open up our minds to be more enlightened about cancer and start adopting a healthy lifestyle. We can win this if given the required attention, dedication and determination, needed to tackle such. Remember, it is very vital to face things early ad more-vital in this case. Reduce the level of self-medications and make it a habit to see the doctor instead for a proper checkup. Stopping procrastination is another key to help fight cancer, putting for later what can be done today is lethal.

Choose a healthy lifestyle today and avoid being a victim of Cancer. Believe me, you don’t want to be one.

Cancer is not beyond you and me, we are stronger than it; so let’s fight on and purge this menace out of our world.


Last Updated: 30-Jun-2016 07:39 PM

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