By: Adeosun Moses Ayobami
Cancer is usually painted as a sickness where the victims moves around with neatly shaved hair and writes death wishes, while they countdown on the days left for them on earth. But, is cancer truly a death wish or a disease like other diseases?
Every February 4th is recognized as World Cancer day led by Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), in view of providing succor and help to cancer patient worldwide and encourage the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer. This year’s theme is to question the status quo and help reduce stigma; to listen to the perspectives of the people living with cancer and allow those lived experiences guide our thoughts and actions, and the need to stop stigmatization of the victims of cancer.
Cancer is a fatal disease which the WHO estimated to have caused close to 10 million death in the year 2020 alone, with Africa producing about 1.1 million new cases annually and 700,000 death yearly. Also, it exerts a lot of physical, emotional and financial strain on individuals, families, communities and the health system. Cancer is also known as neoplasm or malignant tumor, which is caused by excessive dividing of body cells. The main problem lies in cancer cells, they are easily uncontrollably compared to other body tissues and it is caused by changes in DNA. Cancer affects different body tissues, hence, the various classifications ranging from breast cancer, prostate cancer, basal cell cancer, skin cancer (melanoma), colon cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, and lung cancer being the most dangerous.
Warning signs of cancer includes: unexplained weight loss or weight gain especially abound 10 pounds or more at a time, fatigue that does not get better even after resting, night sweats, trouble swallowing loss, of appetite, blood in urine or in stool, recurrent nausea or vomiting, new persistent pain, belly pain and swelling or lumps in any part of the body, while some cancers run hereditary.
TREATMENT OF CANCER
Cancer treatment is more effective when discovered in the early days of its development. Treatment starts from early screening to detect symptomatic cancer at its earliest possible stage, and screening to identify people with a symptomatic cancer and refer them for diagnosis and treatment. This ranges from chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation therapy, photodynamic therapy and hyperthermia and a combination of one or more treatment strategy as dimmed fit by a cancer professional team based on tumor type, cancer stage, clinical and other factors.
Also, there is palliative care which focuses on improving the quality of life of patients and their families. And also survivorship care, which includes a detailed plan for monitoring cancer recurrence and detection of new cancers, accessing and managing long-term effects associated with cancer and its treatment, and services to ensure that cancer survivor needs are met. However, the most effective treatment of any disease including cancer is in its prevention. Prevention of cancer involves avoiding the various cancer risk factors.
RISK FACTORS OF CANCER
- Tobacco use including cigarettes and smokeless tobaccos,
- Unhealthy diets that excludes plenty of fruits and vegetables,
- Alcohol use,
- Unhealthy weight,
- Not practicing safe sex,
- Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus,
- Exposure to ultraviolet rays, air pollution,
- Chronic infections,
- Not getting regular medical checkups.
And the prevention is by avoiding the use of tobaccos, limiting alcohol use, practicing safe sex, regular medical checkups, eating healthy diets and vaccination against Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus. In conclusion, cancer is not a death wish, truly it has led to various death, but it can be prevented by avoiding risk factors and have a high hope of cure if it’s detected early.