Cancer is a result of abnormal changes which often start in a single cell. These changes form a tumor and may invade cells around, when this tumor becomes invasive, it is referred to as malignant. Cancer can form almost anywhere in the body and some examples of common cancers are; thyroid cancer, lung cancer, kidney cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The Theme of World Cancer Day for the years 2016-2018 is to identify ways in which we can support each other in reducing the global cancer burden. Every single one of us is in a position to make an impact on the occurrence and effect of Cancer on individuals, families, and communities. The primary objective of World Cancer Day, February, 4th 2017 is to get as many conversations started around Cancer as possible.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with approximately 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths in 2012.
Among men, the 5 most common sites of cancer diagnosed in 2012 were lung, prostate, colorectum, stomach, and liver cancer.
Among women, the 5 most common sites diagnosed were breast, colorectum, lung, cervix, and stomach cancer.
More than 60% of world’s total new annual cases occur in Africa, Asia and Central and South America. These regions account for 70% of the world’s cancer deaths.
Research has shown that annual cancer cases will rise from 14 million in 2012 to 22 within the next 2 decades.
Cancer causing viral infections such as HBV/HCV and HPV are responsible for up to 20% of cancer deaths in low- and middle-income countries.
The risk factors below could be present in any combination. One, some or all could be contributing factors in different individuals;
Signs & Symptoms
The signs and symptoms can be present in any combination. It is also important to note that the presence of any of these do not necessarily mean it is related to cancer. If any of these signs and symptoms are experienced, it is important to seek prompt medical advice;
Treatment will vary depending on the type, location, and severity of cancer. Common treatment options include surgery, hormone therapy, chemotherapy or radiation. Unfortunately, not all cancers can be treated.
Prevent cancerPrevent cancer – Education is essential in cancer prevention, particularly on the risk factors. The largest risk factor is smoking, leading to about 5 million deaths from cancer a year. Individuals also need to be aware that alcohol consumption and obesity lead to about a third of common cancers. In the 21st century, there is higher exposure to cancer risk factors such as tobacco, unhealthy diet options and a lack of exercise and active decisions need to be made to reduce these manageable risks. For example, a healthy and balanced diet, including five fruit and vegetables a day whilst cutting out processed foods, drinking two liters of water a day and taking part in at least 45 minutes of medium intensity exercise a day can greatly reduce your risks (by a third).
Create healthy cities – With 66% of the world’s population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, the quality of the urban environment will play an increasingly important role in public health. Nigerians are encouraged to petition to your national government to adopt policies that encourage and improve a healthy environment. For example, creating smoke-free public spaces, exercise friendly public routes/ spaces and sanitary environments.
Challenge perceptions – In Nigeria, Cancer, particularly end-stage, is often stigmatized. This may prevent people from seeking help and/or getting the help they need. Those affected may feel isolated or depressed as a result. We are responsible for challenging stigmas and perceptions by educating everyone to empower those affected with cancer to access quality help and information on prevention and care.
Make healthy lifestyle choices – Around one-third of cancer deaths are due to the 5 leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and alcohol use. These include; avoiding tobacco (primary or secondary), keeping physically active, reducing processed foods, maintaining a healthy body mass index and protecting the skin with sunscreen appropriate to your skin tone. Choose healthily!
Understand that early detection saves lives – An awareness of the typical signs and symptoms is important and potentially life-saving in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. If any of the signs and symptoms are observed, it is important to seek prompt medical advice. Attending screening programs is important as it allows for early detection of cancerous growths thus potentially improving prognosis and the quality of life of those affected. Prevent earlier, detect earlier!
Ask for support – Encouraging those dealing with the impact of Cancer (social, psychological or physical) to maintain a social support group where they can receive support will have a positive impact on their wellbeing. Lakeshore Cancer Center (private), Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian Cancer Society are examples of organizations with links to supporting groups for those affected by cancer in Nigeria.
For further information, follow links below;