2021: The ultimate year of the “I am and I will” campaign against cancer.
• Generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. Other terms used are malignant tumor and neoplasm.
• One defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs. This process is referred to as METASTASIS. Metastases are the major cause of death from cancer.
• It is a leading cause of death worldwide and accounting for about 9.5million deaths
The main types of Cancer are: lung, stomach, liver, colorectal and breast.
Most cancer deaths occurred in low and middle income countries
WHAT CAUSES CANCER?
Cancers arise from one single cell and the transformation from a normal cell into a tumor cell is a multistage process. These changes are the result of the interaction between a person’s genetic factors and three categories of external agents which are:
1. Physical Agents: ultraviolet and ionizing radiation.
2. Chemical Agents: asbestos, components of tobacco smoke.
3. Biological Agents: infections from certain viruses, bacteria and parasites.
Age is another fundamental factor for development of cancer.
RISK FACTOR FOR CANCERS
Genetics, Tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet and chronic infections from Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV) and some types of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
HOW CAN THE BURDEN OF CANCER BE REDUCED?
Cancer can be reduced by a) Prevention b) Early detection c) Management of patients with cancer.
- Prevention (30-40% of cancer can be prevented)
- Increase avoidance of lifestyle modifiable risk factors
- Vaccinate against human papilloma virus implicated in cancer of the cervix and Hepatitis B virus (HBV)
- Control occupational hazards e.g. workers in Coal mines.
- Reduce exposure to sunlight will help reduce the incidence of skin cancers.
- Early detection (30% can be cured through early diagnosis and treatment)
Deaths from cancer can be reduced if cases are detected and treated early. There are two components of early detection.
- Early Diagnosis
The awareness of early signs and symptoms in order to facilitate diagnosis and treatment before diseases become advanced.
Systematic & routine screening of the population. It aims to identify individuals with abnormalities suggestive of a specific cancer and refer them promptly for diagnosis and treatment.
For example – Mammogram for Cancer of the breast, PAP Smear for Cancer of the Cervix, PSA for prostate cancer.
- Management of a patient with cancer
It is a series of interventions including surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and psychosocial support that is aimed at cutting the disease or considerably prolonging life while improving the patient’s quality of life.
2021: Together, all our actions matter…